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Bruchey sees 'headway' toward long-term lease with Suns

July 24, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — A new long-term lease to keep the Hagerstown Suns in town has not yet been secured, but Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Tuesday he expects to have “something to present by mid-August.”

Bruchey’s comments came after an hourlong executive session between the Hagerstown City Council and city attorneys before a regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall.

Bruchey said the time was spent working through the city’s needs in a potential 20-year lease that could keep the Suns in Hagerstown, as well as make the Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals the primary tenant of its proposed downtown multiuse sports and events center.

“I believe we made great headway,” the mayor said. “(Suns owner Bruce Quinn is) anxious to get started and keep baseball in Hagerstown, Md., and there’s a whole lot of aspects to this.”

“Right now, we’re just trying to weed our way through,” Bruchey said. “We have never done a stadium in downtown Hagerstown. It’s never happened in the history of Hagerstown ... so trying to find the right lease language, all those things, it’s difficult.”

City officials are not at the point where they are ready to present a preliminary lease agreement that meets Hagerstown’s needs to Quinn, who has been considering moving the team to Winchester, Va.

Quinn and Jim Deskins, director of Winchester’s Economic Development Authority, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Bruchey said it takes time to hash out a workable lease, and it needs to be tailored to Hagerstown to best suit all parties involved — the city, the community and the Suns.

“Winchester’s not Hagerstown,” he said. “Granted, we’re going to negotiate because that’s part of (it), but we’re going to put down what we expect in this lease and (Quinn’s) going to have to agree to it or we’ll have to negotiate on some points in there. Again, those are all things that we’re trying to work through.”

When asked how sure he was that a framework for a lease agreement would be ready by mid-August, Bruchey said “better than 50-50.”

The city and Washington County have previously agreed to a funding formula that would fund $800,000 annually over 20 years toward the debt service of the proposed stadium, which could cost about $30 million with an adjacent parking garage.

Its proposed location is at the corner of West Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue.

In Winchester, two sites have been identified as potential places to build a stadium to attract the team there, but no formal agreements to move the team have been made. It has been reported that Quinn would contribute money toward that facility.

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