Norwich approves new lease with Connecticut Tigers

Norwich — The City Council approved a new lease agreement with the Connecticut Tigers late Monday to keep the team at the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium for at least 10 more years after the 2019 season.

Team officials still are reviewing the final draft they received last week, Tigers general manager Dave Schermerhorn said Tuesday. Once signed by both parties, the contract would trigger the start of $800,000 in stadium improvements approved by the city for the 25-year-old stadium.

In anticipation of the pending agreement, the Tigers last week launched a "name the team" contest, since the agreement will include a provision to put Norwich back in the team's name starting in 2020.

Schermerhorn said Tuesday that "well over 500" ideas for a new name have been submitted thus far. The submission contest runs through April 25, and the team plans to allow fans to vote on the top choices this summer.

 “It’s an exciting time for baseball in Norwich,” Schermerhorn said, “with the contest and the renovations to the stadium coming up.”

Following an executive session Monday, the council voted unanimously to authorize City Manager John Salomone to sign the lease agreement negotiated in March between city leaders and team owner Miles Prentice.

Full details of the agreement will not be released until it is signed by both parties. Terms call for a new 10-year lease starting Jan. 1, 2020, and would give the team the option for two five-year extensions.

The Tigers are the Short Season Single A minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.

The City Council last summer approved an $800,000 bond for stadium improvements, including replacing the original lighting that no longer meets Major League Baseball standards with new LED lights. City officials delayed implementing the improvements until a new lease was secured.

Salomone said Monday that the city has used the state bidding procedure for the lights, and is ready to go with installation starting in late May to have the work done in time for the Tigers’ season opener June 16.

For other stadium improvements, including upgrades to the failing heating and ventilation system and extending fan protective netting around the infield, it would take longer to design and issue requests for proposals, Salomone said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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