Mayor Purzycki to form public-private partnership for Baynard restoration, management

 An artist's rendering of shows what a renovated Baynard Stadium would have looked like under the Salesianum plan. (photo courtesy city of Wilmington)

An artist's rendering of shows what a renovated Baynard Stadium would have looked like under the Salesianum plan. (photo courtesy city of Wilmington)

Mayor Mike Purzycki, D-Wilmington, is searching for entities to participate with the City in a public-private partnership to manage, restore and maintain Baynard Stadium. 

Purzycki said after considering input from the public and members of a working group, a public-private partnership is the best way to make improvements to a deteriorating sports and events facility on 18th Street.

A partnership arrangement was one of five options presented to the Mayor by an 11-member working group he appointed in March to study the needs of Baynard Stadium, after renovation expectations hit a road block last year.

“The process we’ve used up to this point to determine options regarding the facility’s future has produced very important financial information and analysis,” Purzycki said. “What we now have in front of us makes a public and private partnership a smart and reasonable choice to explore.”

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The stadium, owned by the City but managed by the State Parks and Recreation, was built in 1922 and hasn’t been renovated since 1972. Last year, part of the bleachers were condemned following engineering assessments.

In the fall of last year, Salesianum School offered to maintain, manage and revitalize the facility, and spend as much as $20 million on renovations. However, the all-male Catholic school withdrew their offer after State Rep. Charles Potter, D-Wilmington and some City Council members proposed forming a task force and allowing the public to comment on the deal.

Purzycki’s working group reports that allowing the system to remain the same means the stadium’s condition would rapidly decline.

The group weighed the option of a City-owned, State-operated stadium—but it would cost the state $12.6 million, an amount the group believes the State cannot afford.

They also considered a City-owned and State-operated stadium that would cost the City $18.4 million in bonded financing. The group is also weighing the option of a City owned and operated stadium of bonded financing and operational funding costing $22.2 million. Both options would require the City to either make significant budget cuts or absorb increases in its annual operating budgets over the next 20 years to cover the debt service payments related to an increase in overall borrowing. 

Finally, the group also considered a public and private partnership they believe would secure the stadium’s future and is likely to involve minimal expenditures on the part of city taxpayers.

The City said expenditures for the stadium have far exceeded revenue. In 2015, DNREC reported about $53,000 in annual revenue, mostly from events, while expenditures, mostly related to labor costs, were about $157,000, according to the Mayor’s office. The office said over a four year period, revenues have averaged around $51,000.

Purzycki is asking entities serious about participating in the restoration of the stadium to write to his office within the next 14 days. The Mayor said letters of interest should be addressed to his attention at the Office of the Mayor, 800 North French Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 19801 by the close of business on June 21, 2017.

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