Friday, May 2, 2008

Sounds still in default of Greer Stadium lease

Sounds General Manager Glenn Yaeger claims the team has been responsive in becoming ADA compliant.

By Nate Rau, Friday, May 2, 2008 3:21 am(The City Paper)
Updated: Friday, May 2, 2008 3:21 am

The Nashville Sounds organization is still in default of its Greer Stadium lease because certain aspects of the 31-year-old ballpark are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, according Metro’s law director.

The letter, sent to the team by Law Director Sue Cain on April 22, states that the Sounds still have a number of upgrades to make at the ballpark before they are in ADA compliance. Although the team does not have to be fully ADA compliant by a certain date, it does have to submit a plan to do so soon.

The Sounds took a step toward ADA compliance — and toward solving a beef with the team’s major league affiliate, the Milwaukee Brewers — when it recently constructed a $1 million project for new home and visitor locker rooms.

The new locker room facility, located apart from Greer Stadium behind the outfield wall, wasn’t complete until Thursday. Until then, Sounds players were forced to change and prepare for games at LP Field and then take a bus to the ballpark.

“As you are, by your own admission, in violation of the laws of the United States, the Metropolitan Government is providing you with further notice of your continuing material default of the lease,” Cain wrote in the letter.

The team’s Greer Stadium lease expires at the end of the year. The Sounds own an option to extend the lease, but must first be in ADA compliance so they are not in default of their lease, before they can do so.

The Sounds must give 180 days notice about their intentions to renew the lease, which would give the team a July 1 deadline before submitting its plan to become ADA compliant.

“It is the desire of the Metropolitan Government to continue to have the Sounds play baseball in Nashville,” Cain’s letter reads, “and to the extent it is reasonable to do so, will work cooperatively with you should you choose to correct this default in conformance with the terms of the lease.”

Sounds General Manager Glenn Yaeger claims the team has been responsive in becoming ADA compliant and would develop a plan to complete its remaining issues — like the height of concession stands, the number of wheelchair ramps and rails on certain walkways throughout the stadium.

Renewing the Greer Stadium lease is another chapter in what has become a contentious back-and-forth between the Sounds and Metro.

Earlier this week, the team’s new proposed legislation to help with the funding of a possible downtown ballpark passed a state Senate subcommittee. This angered Mayor Karl Dean, who says he asked the team not to press forward with the legislation until it had private financing in place.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Thelma Harper (D-Nashville), would allow the team to use the sales tax generated by the new ballpark and its surrounding development to pay back the debt on construction of the stadium.

Metro’s legislative lobbyist Eddie Davidson said the team pushing ahead with the legislation was an act of bad faith and effectively cut off communication between the city and the Sounds on a possible new ballpark.

Yaeger said the team needs to have all its revenue streams, including public money, in place before it receives private financing.

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