By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Fifteen years ago, city officials signed a contract with the owner of the Volcanoes that was a hot-button issue for many involved.
“The biggest point of contention was the tax-exempt status, some people wanted the property to be tax-exempt for the life of the contract and others saw it differently,” said Shannon Johnson, Keizer city attorney.
In the end, the stadium and parking lot was was exempted from property taxes for the first 10 years aside from a nominal $1 fee. Since the 2006-07 tax year, Salem-Keizer Sports Enterprises, L.L.C., has been paying full property taxes on the entire property amounting to $73,784.69 in 2010, or $25,893.47 on the parking lot and $47,891.22 on the stadium itself, said Susan Gahlsdorf, city finance director. Property taxes are paid to Marion County, but Keizer receives a portion.
The long-term contract was inked for a total of 29 years with an option to extend for an additional eight years. The city also chipped in about $3 million to purchase additional property at the site that was needed for the stadium and the parking lot and to cover infrastructure cost.
The city opted out of stadium ownership when officials determined it was beyond the means and capacity of the city to do so at that time, Johnson said.
“It was good for the team, but it meant less money in the coffers for the city. Realistically, though, the city din’t have anyone with the expertise necessary to run the stadium and didn’t have the capacity to hire someone to do it.”
In addition to the $1 minimum rent the city receives on the property, the city receives 5 percent of gross ticket and rental receipts, and 20 percent of gross earnings on the parking lot. Sales from concessions, souvenirs and and advertising revenues are exempted. In the most recent year for which data was available, the city received $42,390 in 2010 as a result of the percentage sales, Gahlsdorf said.
The contract with the city also provides for community members to hold approved events at the stadium for steeply discounted rates. Qualifying events include: those directly associated with public schools within Keizer; youth sporting events hosted by city-affiliated organizations such as Keizer Little League, Pop Warner, Keizer Soccer, American Softball Association, Babe Ruth and American Legion events; Events sponsored by the city or recognized Keizer neighborhood associations; and city-approved events for which no admission is charged. Community events must also be scheduled by Feb. 15 each year. While the number of such events is capped at no more than 24 annually, typically no more than a handful occur.