Mayor: Suns stadium decision expected by mid-July

June 14, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK |

“We continue to work toward something we can do to keep the Suns in Hagerstown,” Gysberts said. “... We’re doing everything we can to keep the team viable in Hagerstown.”

The mayor confirmed he met with Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn Tuesday, but would not disclose what was discussed.

But Gysberts answered affirmatively when asked if he would describe the meeting as “positive.”

On the same day as the mayor’s meeting with Quinn, the Fredericksburg City Council voted unanimously to spend $50,000 to evaluate a proposal to bring a minor league baseball team to the Virginia city, according to The Free Lance Star in Fredericksburg.

The Suns are considering a move to the Stafford County community, according to the story.

“I’m not worried about Fredericksburg,” Gysberts said Friday. “I’m really not. They’re a long ways away from a stadium themselves.”

Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw last month confirmed that the city council received an “unsolicited” proposal for a baseball stadium, but she and city officials would not comment on who made the offer.

The Fredericksburg’s council agenda item for Tuesday’s meeting said “the funding is needed to properly evaluate the proposal by engaging bond counsel, financial advisors, and other outside consultants with subject matter expertise.”

Hagerstown City Councilman Kristin Aleshire said the Fredericksburg City Council’s decision to move forward in the evaluation process is “up to that entity.”

“I don’t see it so dissimilar than the process that Winchester went through,” Aleshire said Wednesday in a telephone interview, referring to Winchester, Va., which last summer appeared to be a serious contender in landing the Suns before talks waned.

The Winchester City Council, which had entertained the idea of building a ballpark to land the Suns, voted to reject a proposal to transfer parkland to an economic development agency for a proposed stadium in March 2012, citing concerns about economic risks and alcohol, according to previous reports in The Herald-Mail.

By August 2012, a published report in the city said Winchester officials appeared to be losing hope of landing the Suns.

In April, consultant Ripken Design unveiled three new proposed sites in Hagerstown where a multiuse stadium could be built, including the former Washington County Hospital site, as well as two locations adjacent to Municipal Stadium on East Memorial Boulevard.

The previously considered downtown site near the corner of West Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue has yet to be ruled out.

The Suns and its parent club, the Washington Nationals, have deemed 82-year-old Municipal Stadium as no longer up to Major League Baseball standards, according to earlier reports.

Staff Writer Don Aines contributed to this story.

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