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Hagerstown, Fredericksburg preparing dueling ballpark plans

Hagerstown SunsBruce Quinn and crew have managed to drum up an old-fashioned bidding war for the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League), outlining ballpark wish lists for both Hagerstown, Md., and Fredericksburg, Va.

Getting a new ballpark in Hagerstown has been an epic journey for Quinn and his partners: more than a few new-ballpark efforts have failed, and cities have shifted plans for a new downtown facility to an unspecified site elsewhere in the city. But Mayor David Gysberts says a ballpark plan is very much alive after meeting with Quinn:

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.”…

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

Most of the funding sources for a new Hagerstown ballpark have been identified; it’s filling the gaps and choosing the site that have proven to be problematic.

Those issues aren’t true in Fredericksburg, where Quinn has already outlined what he wants to see in a new ballpark and offered $3 million toward land acquisition:

Quinn, who has owned the Washington Nationals’ Class A affiliate with a group of partners since 2010, hired the HKS Inc. architectural firm to handle preliminary design of a 5,000-seat stadium. Its features would include a swimming pool in left field, corporate suites, a kids’ zone, a “party deck” and a restaurant with sports-related games that would be built into the complex and operate year-round….

Quinn said the full design and construction of the stadium would take 18 months, so he hopes the city will approve the deal by the end of October at the latest. The city’s current timeline calls for the matter to be resolved around then following potentially numerous public hearings, the first of which is scheduled for July 9.

Quinn hopes that the city will approve the lease, or at least the broad outlines of one, that the Suns offered by this summer so he can submit his relocation application with Minor League Baseball. He thinks the lease, which calls for the Suns paying the city $105,000 a year in rent and sharing naming rights and other revenues with the city, is a fair offer.

Having two cities bidding for a ballpark is a nice situation for the Suns ownership and also for the Sally League. it could end up that there will be no losers in this situation, as another team in the circuit may be interested in a move — or someone repping an independent league.

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