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Suns staying put for now

February 13, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown Suns will stay in town for now, after another South Atlantic League team acquired the rights to the Greenville, S.C., territory the Suns had sought.

Mandalay Baseball Properties, the owner of the Suns, proposed moving the team to Greenville County to begin play in 2006.

The company, however, planned to keep minor league baseball in Hagerstown and had been in negotiations to find a replacement for the Suns.

In November, Mandalay announced plans to build a privately funded $27.3 million stadium for the Suns in the Greenville market, which was left vacant when the Atlanta Braves moved its Double A franchise to Pearl, Miss.

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Suns General Manager Kurt Landes said Saturday that the team found out at the end of the business day on Friday that Mandalay lost the Greenville bid.

Instead, the Capital City Bombers from Columbia, S.C., will make the move to Greenville. The Bombers are affiliated with the Boston Red Sox.

The Suns and Bombers were two of the three teams seeking to acquire the Greenville territory rights. The third teams was the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, a Double A Southern League team in Jackson, Tenn. The Diamond Jaxx are affiliated with the Chicago Cubs.

Mandalay has said that it proposed the move because it wanted to expand its portfolio to 10 to 12 teams, with one of those teams in Hagerstown.

Mandalay also owns minor league teams in Las Vegas; Frisco, Texas; Erie, Pa.; and Dayton, Ohio.

"Overall, we're disappointed in not being able to expand," Landes said.

Landes said the news will not affect the Suns' 2005 season.

"Mandalay's commitment is the same as it was prior to getting involved with Greenville," Landes said. "Regardless, Mandalay will have professional baseball long term" in Hagerstown.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Saturday he hadn't heard the Greenville news, but that he was pleased the Suns will remain in Hagerstown.

"I know that they hoped to possibly move another team in ... but I'm glad that they're staying," Snook said.

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