The Volcanoes contract with Keizer

Eight hours and 22 minutes.

That’s how long the members of the Keizer City Council took to approve its first contract with the Bellingham Giants, the team that would become the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and affiliate of the San Francisco.

The council spent the first hour of the meeting scrutinizing the first two paragraphs of the 38-page contract.

Shortly after 3 a.m. on Oct. 15, 1996, the council voted 6-1 to approve a 29-year contract with owner Jerry Walker. The only holdout at the time was Councilor Jerry McGee, who disagreed with the $2.995 million investment it would take on the part of the city.

Then-mayor Dennis Koho, a lifelong baseball fan, had courted both city councilors and residents to support the deal. McGee remained unconvinced.

One of the more contentious aspects of the contract was naming rights. Members of the council in addition to Koho wanted the entire property named “Keizer Stadium.” Walker wanted to be able to sell naming rights that would appear on top of the sign near Interstate 5. The council was the one to soften its position, but a deal for naming rights never materialized.

Despite the lack of unanimity and hurt feelings over the stadium name, the city sold bonds to pay for extending water and sewer lines to the 30-acre property alongside constructing a parking lot. In return, Keizer got 50 cents for every car parked and 5% of every ticket sold for all events.

Walker footed the bill to construct the $2.6 million stadium on six acres of the property. The amount translates to roughly $4.1 million in 2020 dollars.  The Volcanoes Club pays $1 rent on the property the stadium occupies each January.

In 2015, the Volcanoes renewed their contract for another 39 years. Rent would increase to 5.5% of gross ticket sales in 2026 and then 6% in 2031. The club is also required to use the name Keizer in all advertising and publicity.

While there are currently no public plans for the Volcanoes organization to end its Keizer residency, the contract also stipulates what should happen if the organization decide to end its lease.

If the club defaults, unresolved issues go into mediation. If the stadium were to be condemned, the city gets fair market value of the property and the Volcanoes club gets interest on improvements over fair market value.