After 25 Years Of Base Stealing, Adelanto Minor League Ball Club Out At Home

ADELANTO—The City of Adelanto and the minor league baseball team that has been hosted within the Adelanto City Limits since 1991 are at the point of a meltdown.
There were rumblings in the fall to indicate city officials had begun to question whether the city was being taken advantage of by the High Desert Mavericks. On December 9, the city council publicly broached the subject of concerns about the arrangement the city had with the team, and that evening made a finding that the public facility use agreement between the city and the team served “no public purpose.”
In late 2015, the City of Adelanto’s finance division undertook a study of the city’s subsidization of businesses within the city.
Though that report was not finalized and filed until the end of January, findings contained within it brought into focus that the contract with Main Street California, LLC, the Mavericks’ ownership, stipulated that the Mavericks only pay $1 annually for rent at Stater Bros Stadium. Three of the current council members were not in office when that contract was agreed upon.
Based on those tentative findings, the city council on January 13 voted unanimously to terminate the agreement for the Mavericks to use the city-owned stadium. In making that vote, city officials asserted, the three-and-half-year old deal violated the state constitution in that the lease served no public purpose. Thus, they said, the arrangement was a “gift of public funds.”
Less than two weeks later the subsidization report was released, showing the city had subsidized the High Desert Mavericks by roughly $600,000 per year – more than $1.8 million since 2012. In breaking down costs the city had sustained as a consequence of the agreement that had been voided, the city maintained it had covered an estimated $675,938 of the team’s rent costs, $486,635 for city personnel in support of the stadium operation, $157,500 in janitorial fees, $46,521 for insurance, $14,000 in parking fees, $229,688 for utilities and another $200,000 in miscellaneous costs including catering.
For its part, however, Main Street California has asserted it is the city that has cost the ball club money.
The city has gone to court in Barstow, filing an unlawful detainer action against the High Desert Mavericks, essentially seeking to evict the ball club from the stadium.
On January 29, the Mavericks went to court, filing suit to force arbitration with the city. Two-and-a-half weeks later, on February 16, Main Street California filed another suit against Adelanto for breach of contract.
In its suits, Main Street does not address the city’s contention that the facility use contract does not serve a public purpose that is harming taxpayers, but it does allege the city’s action is damaging to the Maverick’s fans, players, charitable organizations, the Adelanto economy and the California League.
According to the second suit, the first suit calling for arbitration was needed to protect the team’s rights and that the city is not respecting the spirit of ongoing arbitration but proceeding as if it has the right to lock the team out of stadium “rather than wait for a judicial ruling on the validity of the contract.” Furthermore, according to the suit, “the city is actively taking steps to disrupt the team’s upcoming season in a blatant attempt to force the team out of the ballpark. The team will be irreparably harmed if the city is permitted to continue sabotaging the upcoming baseball season.”
According to the Mavericks, the team, its employees and players have been locked out of the ballpark.
City officials have indicated they are willing to dialogue with the team, but are asserting they will not accept the terms of the past arrangement by which the city was losing money. They want terms that will give the city a percentage of the gate receipts.
The city also contends the club has not lived up to its commitment to pay for maintenance of the facility in all of its particulars, a charge the team denies. Rather, the Mavericks assert, the team has invested “significant sums” in improving Heritage Field at Stater Bros Stadium. It is the city which trashed the field, the team’s ownership maintains, by using it as a venue for the three-day Adelanto Grand Prix in mid-January. It was the city which failed to undo that damage, the suit maintains, “despite a contractual obligation to do so.”
When Main Street California sought a preliminary injunction against the city to bar it from evicting the team, the court declined to grant it, instead deferring action until the Mavericks’ forced arbitration effort runs its course.
Despite the city’s seeming determination to throw the team out on the streets unless it can be guaranteed a better deal for allowing its stadium to be used as a minor league baseball venue, Mavericks owners Dave Heller and Jim Coufos have insisted to both fans and California League officials that the 2012 agreement remains as a “binding legal contract.” They insist the Mavericks will be able to occupy the clubhouse and the home dugout and the Inland Empire 66ers will occupy the visiting dugout at Stater Bros Stadium for the season opener April 7.

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