With Fredericksburg officials setting a time limit of five weeks to negotiate a better ballpark deal with the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League), we’ll know soon enough whether the team is on the move.
The stance from Fredericksburg officials is pretty simple: they want to see the team pony up more for a $29.5-million ballpark. Right now the Suns are offering $105,000 in annual rent, $3 million up front for land acquisition, a 50-50 split on naming-rights proceeds, and a revenue share on net profits past $700,000 annually.
This offer is a little mushy for Fredericksburg officials, who are holding out for the city to pay only $5-8 million of the ballpark cost. That’s quite the funding gap, and with a proposed property-tax hike for area residents and businesses off the table (Bruce Quinn, Suns owner, wants it dropped), there aren’t too many more funding sources left as general funds are not being considered for the facility, past a city sales-tax hike. With the annual debt on bonding expected to be over $2 million, there’s quite a gap to be addressed. And then there are the dynamics of the situation: city officials clearly are distrustful about the Suns offering more funding. From Fredericksburg.com:
[Mayor Mary Katherine] Greenlaw said the Suns ownership hasn’t given much in negotiations so far and wonders how fruitful talks will be in a month.
The team, whose principal owner Bruce Quinn of Florida, first approached the city on Super Bowl Sunday about relocating from Maryland, Cameron said.
When the city rejected the initial proposal in March, it took until May 13 to get its current proposal, which most speakers opposed during a public hearing Tuesday night.
Now, one must take what Greenlaw says with a grain of salt: she’s lecturing the Suns about the need to pony up while at the same time accusing MiLB of running out on leases and ballparks with debt remaining. Luckily, the city is looking at hiring professionals to negotiate a deal with the Suns, and presumably they will have a better grasp of what can be accomplished by both sides.
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