UPDATE: Fergie Jenkins Field will be the home to a new inter-county baseball league franchise.
Municipal councillors unanimously approved the five-year deal during Monday night's meeting.
Calling it a great opportunity to bring Chatham-Kent together, Mayor Darrin Canniff said that the deal was a small investment that residents can all cheer for no matter where they lived.
"I think this is a very exciting opportunity for the municipality," said Canniff.
The new team will play at an upgraded Fergie Jenkins Field at Rotary Park, but not until the 2024 season.
Councillors in Chatham-Kent will finally have an agreement in front of them Monday evening to approve a baseball team in Chatham.
If approved, the newest Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) team would make Fergie Jenkins Field their new home starting next year, but wouldn't start playing until April of 2024.
The agreement between the team and the municipality is for five years and would require $195,500 from the Hydro One Community Benefit Contribution Reserve recently awarded to the municipality for field improvements. The field would get two new bleachers that would add 500 extra seats at a cost of $120,000.
Operating and lifecycle costs would also be pre-approved in the 2024-2027 budget. Operating costs would range from $82,000 in the first year of the agreement to $92,000 in 2028 and the team would pay $9,000 a year in rent to offset those costs.
Under the agreement, the team would be allowed to sell food and alcohol once the necessary permits were issued and renewal of the agreement is subject to further negotiations.
The owner of the team Dom Dinelle approached the municipality in 2020 to pitch the idea, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the project was put on hold. The idea gained momentum again early this year and negotiations were started this summer.
The agreement ensures the team would also work with the Chatham Minor Baseball Association.
Chatham’s own Fergie Jenkins is among the many players that have played in this League and made it to Major League Baseball.