It took nearly two years, but the sale of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees was finally completed this morning.
The Lackawanna County (Pa.) Multipurpose Stadium Authority signed off on the $14.6 million sale of the team to SWB Yankees LLC—the entity made up of Mandalay Baseball Properties and the New York Yankees that currently operates the team—ending a process that began in November 2010. The proceeds of the transaction will be put toward the $43.3 million renovation of PNC FIeld—the price went up $3.3 million since the original agreement—and demolition work may begin as soon as tomorrow. There certainly is reason to rush, as construction was originally scheduled to begin in March and the International League had set an April 1 deadline for work to start in order for the project to be completed by Opening Day next season. The Yankees are playing their entire 144-game schedule on the road this season; a scenario that the International League will not allow again next season, IL president Randy Mobley previously said.
Ewing Cole principal Craig Schmitt, who is overseeing the project, had said at the Winter Meetings last December that a 12-month schedule for construction would be a bit of a rush but doable. At a public hearing last night,construction manager Greg Butz called the new schedule "challenging," but added, "It can definitely be done," according to the Citizen's Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.).
Though an agreement has been reached, the sale still needs to be approved by the International League, Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball. Mobley has previously said that he did not expect any problems to arise during the approval process, but he could not be sure until the paperwork has been filed. So that means construction will begin before any cash changes hands.
So with everything moving ahead so quickly now, why did the deal take so long to complete?
At a public hearing last night, local officials lauded a new agreement as far more beneficial for taxpayers and the future of local minor league baseball than the deal that was struck in late 2010. The Yankees will pay $750,000 annually over the 30-year lease that could extend to 50 years. Notable changes to the agreement include ownership agreeing to contribute to the costs of ballpark maintenance and future repairs as well as covering any cost overrun during construction.