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Wings, county avoid disaster

It’s hard to believe that it was ever in doubt, but baseball fans across the region can breathe a sigh of relief: The Rochester Red Wings will be playing their home games at Frontier Field this season, and for the next 10 seasons.

Monroe County and Rochester Community Baseball agreed to a new 10-year lease—with a mutual option for another 10 years—on Monday, nearly six months after they said they were ready to sign a new lease.

The deal is a win-win-win. Monroe County keeps a crucial tenant in an important venue. The Rochester Red Wings keep a loyal fan base. And the community keeps a fairly affordable entertainment option.

“In baseball terms, it was like a home run for fans in Monroe County and our taxpayers alike,” County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said.

Most people expected a deal would eventually get done in time, but with the International League applying a March 1 deadline and the two sides unable to make much headway at times, Rochester Community Baseball President Naomi Silver didn’t take it for granted that the lease would come to fruition.

“I was very concerned,” she said.

The lease appears to appease both sides. The Red Wings received assurances that the county will maintain the structure of Frontier Field, while the county got the Red Wings to agree to day-to-day maintenance. The rent the Red Wings pay will actually go to improving fan amenities, which should improve the fan experience.

Dinolfo plans to dissolve the local development corporation that used to act as the stadium landlord, which she says will save taxpayers $320,000 per year. Peeling away another layer of administration is a welcome side effect of the agreement.

It would have been nice if this agreement could have been reached without the sometimes-testy back-and-forth—and we certainly could have lived without the injection of politics into the debate—but the end result is all that matters: The Red Wings are staying.

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