Baynard Stadium Deal Between Sallies and City Finally Back on Track

Councilman Charles Potter, Jr. rejected the offer by Salesianum in November to pump $20M into Baynard Stadium and manage the facility. But now the offer is back in play.

Thankfully, cooler heads did prevail, and the kids of Wilmington will finally benefit.

Salesianum School will benefit, too, of course, but that’s what a public-private partnership is all about, which is something that somehow eluded Wilmington councilman Charles Potter Jr., who almost ruined what would have been, and now will be again, a sweetheart deal for everybody.

Baynard Stadium, the best athletics facility in Wilmington, is in a sad state of disrepair and in November of last year Salesianum, the all-boys Catholic high school that sits across the street from Baynard, came up with a $20 million plan to restore and even improve the 95-year-old stadium.

Wilmington councilman Charles Potter Jr.

Everyone enthusiastically embraced the idea and everything seemed like it was full steam ahead, until Potter decided that Sallies was benefitting too much from the deal. He convinced other members of city council to stop it from going forward so he could study it further, even though council had already reviewed the Salesianum plan and approved it. Sallies was understandably miffed by the slap at its integrity and promptly backed out of the agreement, and we were back where we started, which was not a good place.

That same week, Potter sent out a memo in which he emphasized the benefits Salesianum would receive in the Baynard Stadium deal, and there’s no question Sallies had quite a few caveats, including control of usage by other schools and organizations (although Sallies made it clear that anyone who used Baynard in the past could use it in the future), the right to sub-let to organizations affiliated with Salesianum, exclusive naming rights for the stadium and adjoining street and the right to keep revenues generated by the stadium that weren’t directly linked to the schools and/or organizations using it.

Potter listed all of that and more, and then put this at the bottom of his memo, in bold, capital letters:

“IS THIS WHAT A ‘GREAT DEAL’ FOR THE CITIZENS OF WILMINGTON LOOKS LIKE?”

Well, yeah. Again, that’s what a public-private partnership is supposed to look like – a deal where both sides benefit and even profit. It is not a charity give-away and Salesianum never claimed it was doing the renovation strictly out of the goodness of its heart. For both sides, it’s a simple matter of adding up the plusses and minuses and deciding which list is longer.

And the biggest plus for the City of Wilmington is the item with the dollar signs in front of it. Salesianum will raise $20 million and manage the facility, and in return the school will get a bunch of nice perks that makes it worthwhile for it to spend the time and effort needed to raise that much loot.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki says no other entity has offered to share in a public-private partnership to manage the stadium.

Apparently, nobody else can do that, which is why the City of Wilmington has once again decided to become partners with Salesianum – it had no other choice. Mayor Mike Purzycki released a statement on Tuesday where he made it clear that no other entity contacted the city about a public-private partnership, which means the city has to play ball with Salesianum or raise the money itself, which, of course, it can’t do.

Purzycki also praised Sallies for its commitment to the City of Wilmington and thanked the school for resuming talks about renovating Baynard Stadium. Purzycki understands that even though Salesianum will benefit, the school also has a history and a high standard of conduct and ethics that guarantees it will be a good and fair steward of the treasured facility.

Of course, valuable time has been wasted and everyone’s job has become more difficult – including the job of fund-raising – because of the unnecessary delay. But this is definitely a case of better late than never, and eventually the people of Wilmington will have a first-class facility to enjoy for at least another 95 years.

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About the Contributor

Kevin Noonan

Kevin Noonan

Kevin Noonan has covered and commented on the Delaware sports scene for more than 30 years, everything from amateur recreation leagues and high schools to local colleges and the Philadelphia professional teams. He’s been voted Delaware Sportswriter of the Year multiple times and currently covers the Philadelphia Eagles for CBSSports.com and teaches creative writing courses at Wilmington University.

2 Comments

  • Can’t support this, more money, more money, more money. As a Alumni I think this is throwing away millions and will result in ever more rapidly increasing tuition. In five years the City Council will simply kick the Sals out after having Parents and Alumni spend millions to build the City a new Stadium. I am one hundred percent certain Kevin Noonan will not come forward with a single nickle of his own towards this project. Why don’t we let those city entities who were using Baynard rent or receive as a Public Service the facilities of Tower Hill? Not the crowd the Hillers want strolling about on a Friday night? Beautiful facilities and the Hillers could do their share in helping those less fortunate in the city. See there was never a need to rehab Baynard, and Charles Potter would be very proud and save the City Money. Thank you Hillers. Very easy to applaud the plan when it’s not your money Kevin Noonan.

    • Gerry – Sallies isn’t using its own money – it will raise it. Believe me, they know what they’re doing and it won’t affect tuition, etc., at all.

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