Advertisement

Fredericksburg, Va. takes another step toward possible stadium deal with Hagerstown Suns

June 21, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

Fredericksburg, Va., this week took another step toward a possible stadium deal with the Hagerstown Suns by advertising for a request for proposal, or RFP, for a lease adviser.

“The City has received a proposal from an existing minor league baseball team that wishes to relocate to Fredericksburg,” the RFP said. “The team has proposed that the City construct a 4,750 seat multi-use stadium, and lease the stadium to the team for 30 years. The City is interested in retaining a consultant to provide advisory services on the review and development of a stadium lease.”

The RFP does not name the team, but Fredericksburg officials issued a news release on June 13 that said it will hold a July 9 public hearing on a proposal regarding the Suns.

“The Hagerstown Suns, the Class A South Atlantic League affiliate of the Washington Nationals, are interested in relocating to Fredericksburg,” according to the release from City Manager Beverly R. Cameron.

But Hagerstown Mayor David S. Gysberts said Friday that “I still maintain the Suns are ours to lose.”

He said the move by Fredericksburg did not indicate to him that that city was moving ahead of Hagerstown in trying to land a deal with the ball club.

Gysberts questioned why Fredericksburg would need a consultant to draft a lease agreement, something he said a city attorney could handle. He also said Hagerstown officials have a stadium proposal in the works.

“By the middle of July, we will have a proposal to bring to the City Council,” Gysberts said.

He said he would not oppose a downtown stadium site.

“If I can get three votes (on the council), I will support a downtown location at Summit Avenue and Baltimore Street,” he said.

He said that support is based on all the data collected in the process of studying various locations, as well as on the opinions of downtown residents and businesses.

“A project of this size and scope is about more than just baseball,” Gysberts said.

 It is also about having a common location where 5,000 people can gather for an event and the catalyst that would create for downtown revitalization, he said.

Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn, who confirmed he met with Gysberts last week, complimented both the mayor and his staff.

“I can confirm that the team met with the mayor and staff of Hagerstown last week. The mayor is a well educated, calming rational asset for the residents of Hagerstown, and the staff ... always treat us professionally and with the respect we deserve as a business that has significant community pride and development aspects. Needless to say, we have built a strong business partner relationship with those in City Hall that give us a chance,” Quinn said in an emailed statement.

The Fredericksburg stadium would be financed through a special tax district on property within Central Park and Celebrate Virginia South, two commercial centers in the city, the release said. The stadium would have “an estimated public cost” of $30 million, it said.

The adviser would review a proposed stadium lease submitted by the team to the city on May 13, the RFP said.

The adviser would compare the proposed lease with those of other minor league baseball facilities built in the past 10 years, as well as review the market analysis and financial projections made by another consulting firm commissioned to do a stadium study for the city.

The deadline to submit a proposal is June 27, the RFP said.

The July 9 public hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Fredericksburg council chambers. Public comment will be considered on whether the city would amend its comprehensive and capital improvement plans, the release said.

The amendment process is expected to take 90 days, it said.

“The critical question at this stage is whether the public supports the overall project structure as proposed,” Cameron said in the release.

If the support is there, the council will enter into detailed negotiations with the club, he said.

“So the July 9 public hearing is an opportunity for the Council to test public support for the concept,” Cameron said in the release.

Staff Writer C. J. Lovelace contributed to this story.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|