Council Demands Quick Settlement Of Baseball Debt
By RAY BAINES [Victoria Colonist, Feb. 29, 1952]
City council last night voted to refuse a request from the Victoria Baseball and Athletic Club for reduction of its $4,800 debt and will demand immediate payment.
The motion from Ald. Waldo Skillings set the council off on an hour-long wrangle over the contentious issue.
The motion passed 5-2 wih Ald. Percy Scurrah and Ald. James Neely refraining from voting as they are shareholders of the ball club.
City solicitor Arthur Patton was instructed to notify the baseball company of the council’s decision and to point out that under the agreement default of rent can be grounds for repossession.
Ald. William Pinfold favored the motion but stated the city must live up to its contract. He did not agree with previous statements from Ald. Skillings that the city subsidized professional baseball.
“You shouldn’t kick somebody when he’s down,” he said.
Mayor Claude Harrison agreed that if the contract is valid “we must live up to it.”
Tracing the history of the agreement since 1945, Ald. Skillings said the “club has never made money except for the first year but it has made substantially on the concessions every year.”
He pointed out that in 1949, the new contract cut out a clause which originally entitled Victoria to 20 per cent of concession profits.
NO GROSS PROFITS
The second contract, he said, gave the city 50 per cent of gross profits of which they were none. He suggested that Mr. Patton should try and re-negotiate the contract to include the 20 per cent commission clause again.
Mayor Harrison restated that the city was “bound by the contract” but added that he believed the corporation could re-possess after due notice had been given. Most members of the council stated that it was no re-possession the city wanted but money.
Ald. Donald Smith felt that even if payment was made it would not solve the over-all problem. He suggested that next year there should be a referendum on the baseball question.
Although Ald. Scurrah and Ald. Neely did not vote they both supported the negative point of view. The former cited the tourist value of baseball and its effect in “keeping kids off the streets.” Ald. Neely announced that this year there would be certain new directors and the club would probably operate on a better business basis. The $17,000 investment in lights which the company put in was more than ample security for the debt, he said.
Ald. Skillings suggested that if it was publicity the city wanted from sports “let’s start a cricket league.”
Mr. Patton persuaded the council that the contract with the club stated the latter must do the cleaning up in the park. He asked why the city had been doing it in the past.
Parks Administrator W.H. Warren said in a previous report that cleaning alone cost the city $1,000 a year.
Ald. Smith promised that the parks committee would investigate that clause in the agreement.