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Controversy dogs Keys lease negotiations to the end

Frederick KeysA 10-year Frederick Keys (High Class A; Carolina League) lease for Harry Grove Stadium was approved by the city’s Board of Aldermen Thursday night, but not before a last-ditch effort to derail the process was turned back by the board’s majority.

The lease was approved by a 3-2 margin, but not before Mayor Randy McClement and the city attorney huddled to determine whether there were any violations of the RFP process, which included bids from the Keys and Frederick Atlantic, a group led by attorney Jack Lavoie, who was seeking to place an independent Atlantic League teams . Opponents of the lease produced emails between Keys GM Dave Ziedelis and Ald. Kelly Russell from the midst of the RFP submission period, including the forwarding of an email acknowledging the team was indeed for sale, as first reported here. (Yes, we expect an acknowledgement from the other media outlets who ripped us when we accurately reported the state of the team.) Their argument: this amounted to a violation of the RFP process, with the two aldermen arguing Ziedelis had improperly contacted city officials. 

After a quick meeting between McClement and the city attorney, as well as a determination that Frederick Atlantic reps had contacted city officials in the same time period, it was determined that the contact did not violate the RFP rules.

(By the way: the team remains for sale, according to other MiLB owners approached by two brokers repping a potential transaction.)

At the end of the day, the two sides agreed to a 10-year lease calling for the Keys to pay $100,000 a year in rent, up to $100,000 in annual maintenance payments (matching dollar-for-dollar maintenance payments from the city) and a greater emphasis on recycling. Potentially down the road: parking fees.

As we wrote in our previous story, this was a process that served no one well. Alderman Karen Young was right in her assertion that the RFP process was poorly managed, but both the Keys ownership — and GM Ziedelis — and the Frederick Atlantic folks, including Jack Lavoie, were all disrespected in the process. It’s one thing to seek out a better lease for a ballpark, but it’s another to hide behind the RFP process as a way to make up the rules as you go along.

RELATED STORIES: Keys, Frederick on verge of 10-year Harry Grove Stadium lease; Keys lease raising debate in Frederick; Frederick reopens ballpark lease negotiations; Keys, Frederick have draft lease; aldermen 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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