MADISON, Ala. — The Rocket City Trash Pandas have been playing ball for about two weeks now. Concerns surrounding the team’s financial situation is nothing new, but for the first time, the lead investor of Ballcorps, LLC is giving his thoughts on the team, along with where they stand financially.
News 19 spoke with him about everything the start of the season, to the annual audit, to the departure of former CEO Ralph Nelson.
Mark Holland says after a tough year, they are glad to finally have baseball in the City of Madison.
“We’ve been working on this for four years and to finally be playing is thrilling,” said Holland, the lead investor and managing member for Ballcorps, LLC, the company that owns the Rocket City Trash Pandas.
“It was a tough year for everybody,” he added. “I mean, baseball is the business we’re in. Everything else we do over there, while it’s a big part, it’s secondary to baseball, at least financially.”
As Holland says, a year with out baseball was difficult but they still managed to survive the pandemic. He said along with a hardworking and dedicated staff, they got help from PPP loans. Data from the Small Business Administration shows Ballcorps was approved for two PPP loans totaling more than $821,000.
As for finances right now, Holland says they are doing okay, but there are still unknowns.
Even without baseball in 2020, money is still owed to the City of Madison. Holland expects the annual audit to be available soon.
“I heard from the mayor on Monday that they are getting very very close to wrapping that up,” said Holland. “So I would expect we are a matter of days from hearing the actual results of that audit. But all indication so far is that we are in virtual agreement with the numbers that were presented to City Council back in January.”
The number presented was around $645,000.
Though the ballpark lease agreement says the money is due by April 15 every year, Holland requested an extension: “Really to provide the city auditors the adequate time to get everything they wanted out of our books and records,” he said. “Even though the lease, as I understand it, limits the scope of the city’s audit really to non-baseball events, I invited the city and their auditors to look at anything they wanted to.”
The extension was requested shortly after former President and CEO Ralph Nelson resigned, but Holland said it has nothing to do with Nelson’s departure.
“I think Ralph wanted to exit at a time when he wasn’t going to be a distraction for the organization,” said Holland. “So he did so gracefully and let Garrett and Lindsay, and myself take over operations.”
News 19 asked Holland if Nelson’s departure was surprising.
“To the general public, it was probably a surprise but we were aware, at least the executives at Ballcorps were aware, that Ralph has begun exploring another team and so for him to pull back and focus on that wasn’t a terrible surprise, no,” he said.
News 19 has been following the financial situation of the Trash Pandas along with the process of the annual audit extensively, and will continue to bring updates.