A one-year extension of the stadium lease agreement with the Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, was approved today, Sept. 12 by Myrtle Beach City Council. With this move, the city will have time to decide whether to sell its baseball business, upgrade the stadium at 21st Avenue North and Grissom Parkway, or build a new ballpark, perhaps in downtown.
A proposed agreement states that all parties will work collaboratively on determining Pelicans Stadium’s future during the one-year extension period.
Since 1999, the ballpark has been jointly owned by the city and Horry County. The city owns 70% of the stadium and 30% belongs to Horry County. However, county leaders have become frustrated with the costs of maintaining the stadium. A ballpark improvement estimate of $58.7 million was a source of controversy earlier this year among county officials.
The City of Myrtle Beach even went as far as unofficially considering relocating the stadium to the land the city has purchased along 7th Avenue North downtown.
In reference to the city and the baseball park, HorryCounty Councilman Mark Causey asked last April, “Can we give them our share back?”.
The original Myrtle Beach Pelicans stadium cost $12 million, with $10 million coming from the city and county, while the team contributed $2 million. The team spent $1 million on improvements in the following decades. As of 2017, the city has spent $1.2 million on renovations and repairs, with replacing the field being the most expensive.
Pelicans officials said the stadium had 210 deficiencies, and the team had until 2023 to correct them or reduce the number to 10 by 2025 in compliance with Minor League Baseball regulations.
There are problems with the home and visitors’ clubhouses, a lack of weight and training rooms on site, and inadequate field lighting and fencing along the outfield walls.
Mark Kruea, a city spokesman, said the city is still weighing its long-term options, including building a new stadium. A new Myrtle Beach Pelicans stadium would cost the town up to $60 million.
The proposed agreement would keep the Pelicans in the city until 2024 if it is extended as expected.
Some county officials raised the possibility of breaching the stadium contract in April.
Initially, the city and the team agreed to a three-year lease extension, then a two-year contract. This latest agreement does not contain any significant changes.