Several Frederick Board of Aldermen members want to see more information about the bidding process for Harry Grove Stadium, home of the Frederick Keys (High Class A; Carolina League), saying the city passed on a better bid from the independent Atlantic League.
One board member, Karen Young (wife of Ron Young, the former Frederick mayor who worked with Peter Kirk to bring the Keys to Frederick in the first place), has been especially critical of the Harry Grove Stadium lease proceedings, saying by her calculations an Atlantic League bid from a group led by Jack Lavoie was worth more to the city than the Keys’ bid. But she’s certainly not alone in her criticisms.
We’re not so sure the criticisms of the RFP process are accurate, as we don’t have access to the original bids. But we do have access to a summary prepared by the Atlantic League folks (you can view it yourself here), and the comparison favors the Keys, no matter what the aldermen argue. While there’s little doubt the Atlantic League submitted a pretty strong bid, it’s not as though the Keys ownership — Ken Young and crew — isn’t one of the better ones in Minor League Baseball when it comes to finances and submitted a respectable bid of their own.
The Keys bid included a higher base rent ($100,000 annually) and yearly capital contributions (up to $100,000, matching city contributions) for an entire 10-year lease (the Atlantic League bid limits capital expenditures to the first three years, by our reading, though the Atlantic League summary isn’t very clear on this point), as well as provisions for a naming-rights deal and city revenues from parking fees made outside the bid process. The Atlantic League bid would pay more upfront (prepaying the first three years of rent), do more in terms of community accessibility to the ballpark and has the team assuming utilities costs. The city graded the Keys have having the better bid.
Right now Mayor Randy McClement is moving ahead with lease negotiations with the Keys, having scrapped a planned city workshop this week where the lease would be reviewed by the full board.
There’s no doubt the Atlantic League bid was strong. But being strong may not be good enough: knocking an affiliated team out of its own ballpark when the team also submitted a strong bid is difficult, and serving as an affiliate of the local Baltimore Orioles gives the Keys a huge home-field advantage. If you’re going to capture the throne you need to kill the king, and the Atlantic League bid is no king-killer.
RELATED STORIES: Frederick reopens ballpark lease negotiations; Keys, Frederick have draft lease; alderment want more information; Frederick committee recommends Keys retain ballpark lease; Two bids submitted for Frederick lease; Keys: We want to stay in Frederick; Frederick: Affiliated team to have advantage in ballpark bidding; Frederick to put ballpark lease to bid; Keys on market; Ballpark Visit: Harry Grove Stadium / Frederick Keys
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