AUBURN — Mike Voutsinas, general manager of Auburn Doubledays, said the team's request for an $80,000 line of credit from the city is due to an error made during the 2013 baseball season.
"If things were more in order at the beginning, they (Auburn Community Baseball Non-Profit Association) probably should have borrowed more from the city, but they didn't," he told councilors at Thursday night's city council meeting.
In a unanimous vote, councilors agreed to give that line of credit to the short-season Class-A Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Washington Nationals, which is owned by the city and contracts with ACB to run the team. Though the line of credit is not a loan, this is the second time taxpayers will be helping out the team with a large financial sum. In 2014, the city had loaned ACB $125,000 and in 2015 forgave $93,000 of that loan.
Voutsinas said that if those running the Doubledays at the time had asked for more money from the city, there would not have been a need to acquire a loan from a bank, which the team did approximately two years ago. That loan, $65,000, has cost the team $500 a month in interest to pay off, something Voutsinas said has made their cash flow tight.
While attendance is slightly up, Voutsinas said the Doubledays still rely heavily on game-day revenues. With two games rained out so far, he said the team is playing as many games as possible.
Councilors Terry Cuddy and Jimmy Giannettino expressed some concern during the meeting that there was no specific value required for the team to decrease its average monthly balance each year in the city's agreement with ACB. Giannettino said while he understands where ACB is coming from, he wanted to make sure the city is looking out for taxpayers who are funding it.
"The city owns the team," Voutsinas said, "so if you want to operate it, it needs money to operate. We're not coming and asking for a loan. We're asking to be able to operate."
According to the agreement councilors passed, ACB should have the line of credit paid off to the city by Aug. 18, 2020.
Interim City Manager Jeff Dygert said while the Doubledays isn't an essential service, it does provide a lot of pride to the community.
Dygert also said by paying off the loan now, which part of that line of credit will go toward, the team will save a substantial amount of money from paying interest to the bank.
Councilor Dia Carabajal said the Doubleday's debt is the city's debt, and by contributing the funds, the city will be saving money.
To monitor the team's progress, Dygert said the city and the team meet about every two weeks to see what support it may need.
"We'll see what happens," he said. "We'll work with the team. It's a huge part of the community, and I'm sure everyone wants to see us do what we can within reason to maintain baseball in Auburn."