After all the drama that happened between the Heartland Of America Baseball League and the Ozarks Pro Baseball League this summer, little hope was left for baseball returning to Ozark, Missouri.
However, that may all be about to change.
According to the CC Headliner, two businessmen, Jeff Williams and Joel Benenson, closed on a deal for Price Cutter Park on August 10th.
Price Cutter Park had previously been discussed for use by both failed indy leagues, but a deal was never reached between either of the two leagues and park owner, Horn Chen.
(Price Cutter Park by digitalballparks.com)
After purchasing Chen’s company, OMS, LLC, Williams and Benenson then entered into a deal with the Ozark Board of Aldermen to bring a baseball league to the town next spring. Since the opening of the park, Chen had owned the stadium, but the city owned the land the stadium sat on.
In a 5-1 decision during a special emergency meeting at 6:15 p.m., Aug. 10, the aldermen agreed to accept the donation of the stadium and all of its improvements to the city and to enter into a 15-year “triple net lease” that makes the stadium available to the company for $1 a year for the first five years and $60,000 annually for the next 10. OMS, LLC remains responsible for the complete maintenance and operation of the venue.
The agreement also allows for the tenants to deduct real estate tax payments due now from the last payment made in 2030.
Brett Roubal (attorney for the new owners) appeared before the board Monday on behalf of the company, saying that Williams and Benenson are committed to bringing baseball back to Ozark and to answer any questions.
Ozark’s mayor, Rick Gardner, is excited for the future and said that this was exactly what needed to happen. After more than a decade of Price Cutter Park being without a professional team, ever since the Springfield-Ozark Ducks played their last season in the Frontier League in 2004, there will be baseball back in Ozark, Missouri.
This deal is much more solid than any that was proposed earlier in the year, and hopefully much more promising for the return of baseball. Williams and Benenson have extra incentive to make this league work. Both men have sons who were slated to play in one of the failed leagues there this summer.
They hope to have their season begin in March 2016.
More details about baseball returning to Ozark, MO will be provided in the upcoming months. Please subscribe to Indy Ball Island to get any further updates.