MADISON, Ala. — The Rocket City Trash Pandas are finally getting to begin their season this week after being put on hold for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With no baseball, the team lost out on a great deal of money and now, are dealing with the lack of revenue.
“Right now, we’ve been lucky to keep all of our staff employed during the pandemic,” said Lindsey Knupp, the Trash Pandas Vice President of Marketing, Promotions and Entertainment. “That was super important to us.”
Knupp said the team has stayed afloat because of over 100 community events they hosted at Toyota Field.
Former Trash President and CEO Ralph Nelson told News 19 the lack of baseball in 2020 meant the club missed out on a projected $17.8 million in revenue.
Even so, Trash Pandas General Manager Garrett Fahrmann said they’re in good financial shape.
“We’re in great financial setting,” he said. “Once we start getting games going as well, it’s just going to increase.”
The contract between the City of Madison and Ballcorps, LLC, the company that owns the Trash Pandas, calls for the organization to pay the City at least $1 million annually from “the venue revenue.”
But the past year hasn’t been normal and how much is actually owed now depends on the annual audit.
“The audit is between the City and Ballcorps for the 5 different revenue streams that Ballcorps has collected,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley. “In this case, most of it is naming right and non-baseball events. They presented a number to the City Council on January 25th. Our auditors have now concluded their audit last week and are compiling that. There will be a positive or negative number based on what they find from that audit.”
To date, the city has received $165,738.12 from the Rocket City Trash Pandas. At the January 25, City Council meeting, Ralph Nelson said the City is owed $545,177.53 from non-baseball events and $101,571.62 from city sales tax but the actual amount owed, which will be released in the audit, has not yet been released.
News 19 reached out to the members of the Madison City Council on their thoughts on the situation. Only two responded, and each referred statements to come from the city and the mayor.
“We have every confidence that they’ll give us the numbers and Ballcorps said once they know what that number is, that the City will get paid in full,” said Mayor Finley.
Even with some money owed at the moment, the mayor mayor says he’s ready for baseball to come to the city.
“We can’t wait for May 11th,” he added. “It’s been a long time to get there. Once we get baseball added to 175 non-baseball events… we can’t wait for 2021.”
Mayor Finley says the city will release the details of the finished audit publicly and with taxpayers once the information is available.