A day after Hagerstown officials pitched a new downtown ballpark, Fredericksburg (Va.) officials say they have a conceptual deal to bring the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League) to their city.
The timing isn’t coincidental: both sides are bringing forward their best offers in what’s perceived as the final stretch to determine the future of the franchise. The deal between Fredericksburg and the Suns is billed by the city as being conceptual — in other words, there’s no final agreement. But with private investors, the Suns ownership and the city signing off on the broad outlines of a deal, it’s safe to say Fredericksburg has a huge advantage in bringing affiliated ball to town. From Fredericksburg.com:
The Suns, city negotiation team and New Jersey-based Diamond Nation released a mutually approved statement Wednesday evening saying that the three entities “have reached agreement on a conceptual deal structure” regarding a financing plan for a complex at Celebrate Virginia South that would include a 5,000-seat stadium and at least five artificial turf fields for baseball and softball amateur camps and tournaments….
The city of Fredericksburg is expected to release details about the financing proposal Thursday. It includes an array of economic incentives that would allow the Suns and Diamond Nation to receive reimbursements of tax revenues that the complex generates for the city. That would mean the team and Diamond Nation bearing most of the risk and having incentives to perform and recoup more tax revenues.
The agreement that has been reached calls for the team to finance the majority of the upfront costs on a complex estimated to cost $38 million. The city has been asked to pay for the 1,800-space parking lot that could be used by the Suns, Diamond Nation and the city for special events in Celebrate Virginia such as the Marine Corps Historic Half race.
Meanwhile, we wouldn’t feel too sad for Hagerstown. The funding sources for a new Suns ballpark could easily be applied to, say, another affiliated team or an independent Atlantic League team.
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