The Union County High School Yellow Jackets will play their home games of the 2012-2013 football season at the Union County Stadium under an amended rental agreement signed Thursday by Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair and Union County School District Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall.
During the 2011-2012 school year, the district rented the stadium from the county for home football games and high school graduation for $45,000. In June, the county forwarded the district notes from a committee meeting of Union County Council in which it was suggested that the district rent the stadium for $95,000 a year as it had done in previous years. Woodall questioned this, pointing out that the district was using the stadium less now than in the years it was paying the $95,000 a year rental fee.
The county also offered an alternative proposal under which the district would lease the stadium for $1 a year and assume responsibility for its maintenance and operation. In response, the district called in attorneys, consultants and engineers to inspect the facility and advise whether or not leasing the stadium was an option. The engineers reported back that while the stadium was up to code for the county’s standards and could be used by the district as is, it did not meet 2012 codes for school districts and leasing it would require the district to bring it into compliance with the SC Department of Education’s Office of School Facilities.
Earlier this month, Woodall said leasing the stadium for $1 a year could end up costing the district millions and bringing it into compliance with 2012 code requirements would prevent the Yellow Jackets from playing there until the work was completed. Instead, Woodall said the district wanted to again rent the stadium from the county for $45,000 a year for home football games and graduation.
The issue of lease versus rent raised the question of whether or not the Yellow Jackets would be playing their first home game of the season at the stadium. Sinclair and Stadium and Airport Director Ronnie Wade said the county fully expected the Yellow Jackets to play their home games at the stadium with Sinclair pointing out that the district would again be leasing the stadium for $45,000 this year as it had the previous two years. He said there was a contract between the county and the district dating back to 2007 that automatically renews every July and that any new contract would have to be the result of a joint meeting of council and the Union County Board of School Trustees. He said council had not approved or disapproved a new contract, but had approved $45,000 payment for 2012-2013 along with an invitation to the board for a joint meeting to discuss the future of the stadium.
Woodall, however, said that the 2007 contract had ended when the district exercised its rights under a renegotiation clause in the contract and sent the county a letter in 2010 requesting the contract be renegotiated. She said that since that time the district has rented the stadium under a verbal agreement with the county, something its attorneys had advised it could no longer do.
It doesn’t have to any more, because Thursday afternoon Sinclair and Woodall signed an amended version of the rental agreement in the first floor hallway of the Union County Courthouse.
The amended version of the agreement states that the county and the school district entered into the agreement on July 1, 2007 and that the terms of that agreement remains in effect. It states that “a verbal amendment to this Agreement was made in 2010 changing the amount of consideration for the agreement from $95,000.00 to $45,000.00.” It further states that “the parties have now agreed that the agreement is still in effect and should be amended.” Those amendments include:
• Deleting a reference to the Junior Varsity in the first paragraph. The paragraph now states that the school district may use the stadium for “playing its home varsity games and holding other activities which it presently uses the stadium or has used the stadium in previous years.”
Sinclair said Thursday the reference to the Junior Varsity was deleted because the district no longer uses the stadium for its Junior Varsity games.
• Deletes the entire third paragraph, replacing it with the statement that the county and the district “shall each insure their own interest and shall be responsible for their own liability that arises out of this agreement.”
Sinclair said this eliminates the “hold harmless clause” from the agreement. He said the State Attorney General’s Office had ruled that the hold harmless clause could no longer legally be part of the agreement and should be removed.
• It states that “consideration for this Agreement shall now be reduced from $95,000.00 per year to $45,000.00 per year.”
Sinclair said this put in writing the verbal agreement between the county and the school district concerning the amount the district will pay to rent the stadium this year.
Woodall welcomed the signing of the amended agreement and said its signing means the tradition of the Yellow Jackets playing their home games at the stadium will continue.
“We’re glad we were able to reach agreement in writing,” Woodall said. “We’re glad to be playing again at the Union County Stadium this year.”
The Yellow Jackets will meet Gaffney at the stadium on Aug. 31.