Simply put, you can't blame this mess solely one side.
Jefferson County is to blame because they county don't seem to be terribly willing to accept the fact that they're going to lose money on Ford Park no matter what they do. That's just the nature of maintaining a venue like that. Places like that are like parks. You don't have them to make money, you have them to improve quality of life for the area's residents and the economic impact that a facility like that generates.
But it is my belief that the team shares a lot of blame too. If they were really enthusiastic about being back after this year, they would have picked up the option written into the lease (PDF) in section 3.b (page 4 of the PDF) by September 30th. They didn't.
The team argues that the lease terms allow for them to have another season under the same terms, pointing to the "Force Majeure" clause in the contract (Section 17, pages 20 and 21 of the PDF) which they believe applies because of the 2005-06 season's cancellation due to Hurricane Rita.
What the team fails to mention when pointing to that clause of the contract is the settlement reached between them and the county after Rita. The agreement that basically gave the team two years rent-free. It's been everybody's understanding that the two rent-free seasons compensated them for the lost season and that another season would not be owed.
In fact, the team has never said anything about being owed a fifth season before last week when they sent out that email I posted.
I requested a copy of the settlement (as well as a few other documents) from the team so I could see whether they were truly owed another season or not.
I received no reply to that email.
In that same email I requested a copy of the notice to vacate and any correspondence indicating that negotiations had been terminated or that they would not be allowed to play in Ford Arena. I requested these both because not only were they not contained in the documents released by the team, but the county denies ever doing any of those. Of course, I didn't receive those either.
The claim that all negotiations were terminated has already come out to be false, as a new offer was submitted to the county today by the team.
The fact that the team is unwilling to generate these documents leads me to think that none of these claims are true.
I don't appreciate being lied to by anybody, much less by people who I'm giving money to.
With that being said, I'll buy playoff tickets. Part of me thinks I shouldn't even do that, but I've been rooting for these guys all year and it'd be tough to not see them through to the playoffs. But I will not buy the $357 package that would lock up my current seat for the entirety of the playoffs.
Nope, I'll be buying the cheapest full-playoffs package, which runs $187.
After that, I won't give the team another cent IF they do happen to come back. I just refuse to give money to people that lie to me.
Of course, if the team decided after reading this to generate the requested documents, I might change my mind.
But I doubt it.