High Desert Opens Season With A Big Win—In Court

After the city council of Adelanto, Calif., terminated their lease on Heritage Field this spring, the High Desert Mavericks scored a major win in court on Monday. The team and its owner, Main Street California, were granted a temporary injunction that will keep its lease enforced until a court says otherwise.

This will keep the Mavericks in High Desert for the 2016 season, eliminating the possibility of yet another wandering franchise in the minors.

The Mavericks re-did their lease with the city in August 2012 and had it approved by the city council and signed by Steven Baisden, the mayor pro tem. Under the renegotiated conditions, the team pays $1 per year in rent to the city instead of the $110,000 it had been paying. In exchange, the team took over field maintenance and all related costs. According to the latest available numbers, field maintenance usually costs around $150,000 per season.

Under the current city council and mayor Rich Kerr, the city re-examined the lease. The city, currently running a debt of nearly $3 million on the stadium and its associated costs, decided the lease, as constructed, was in violation of California’s law against gifts of public funds to for-profit companies. As such, the council voted to cancel the team’s lease and evict the Mavericks.

The April 4 ruling nullified the eviction. Moreover, the court also sided with Main Street Baseball’s contention that this dispute should be settled via arbitration rather than through the court system. The current lease, which can be renewed by the team through the 2018, calls for all disputes that cannot be settled after 45 days of good faith negotiation will be decided through arbitration. In essence, the court’s ruling in that matter is simply continuing to enforce the terms of the lease it had previously ruled legal.

Dave Heller, the head of Main Street Baseball, was pleased with what the court had to say and didn’t mince words.

“It just shows that (the city’s) legal case is flimsier and has more holes in it than the thinnest slice of Swiss cheese ever known to mankind,” he said.

The city had also sought from the Mavericks information about the amount of money taken in from the use of the parking lots and convention center at Heritage Field, as well as a complete accounting of the team’s employees—full-time, part-time and paid temporary—for the previous three seasons.

Mavericks GM Ben Hemmen had provided the latter information in an e-mail to Adelanto city clerk Cindy Herrera on Jan. 27 that showed the team had employed 1,113 people since 2012. The city sought a more detailed account.

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