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Fredericksburg to move ahead with ballpark financing negotiations

Hagerstown SunsThe Fredericksburg (Va.) City Council will move forward with negotiations on a new baseball complex and ballpark for the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League), but it’s not clear whether the city will commit an additional $18 million to the project.

Diamond Nation has proposed a $61-million development at Celebrate Virginia South featuring a new 4,750-seat Suns ballpark, a five-field youth and amateur baseball complex, plus associated support facilities (clubhouses, concessions, etc.). Diamond Nation had already arranged financing before cost estimates came in pegging the project cost at $61 million, leaving an $18-million financing gap.

Diamond Nation officials are pitching the city on a new plan: Fredericksburg would front the $18 million and waive all property taxes, and in return Diamond Nation would pay 3 percent of gross revenues for the first 10 years the complex is open, and 1.5 percent after that, until the $18 million is paid back. It’s that plan that was presenting to the council yesterday. From

It was clear there was little support among the council for the plan as it stood before the start of the work session. The Council Chambers of City Hall were packed during the baseball proposal discussion. Nearly all of the nine people who spoke at the meeting opposed the city’s increased investment in the project.

Resident Anne Little spoke against the proposal for the city to take on $18 million more debt for the project. She provided the council a packet that she said included a petition with 113 names of residents who oppose the current deal.

As part of the ongoing negotiations, the city will have its bond counsel and financial advisors review the finances of the partners after agreeing to confidentiality of the details.

There are some other issues here. Diamond Nation still hasn’t closed on the purchase of the land, which carries some back taxes. City officials want to see those issues cleaned up before committing to the project.

The team has a lease at Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium through 2016.

RELATED STORIES: Diamond Nation: Front us more money, and we’ll share ballpark revenues; Price tag for new Fredericksburg baseball complex: $61M; New Fredericksburg ballpark over budget; owners exploring options; New Fredericksburg ballpark opening delayed to 2016; Fredericksburg ballpark groundbreaking set for March; Quinn: Let’s bring short-season ball to Hagerstown; Fredericksburg ballpark deal moves forward — slightly; Local investor boosts Fredericksburg ballpark plan; Fredericksburg: We have deal to bring in Hagerstown Suns; Hagerstown: Yes, we really do want a downtown ballpark; Private financing pitched for new Suns ballpark; Fredericksburg, Suns to meet Tuesday to discuss new ballpark deal; Fredericksburg: We have five weeks to negotiate Suns lease; Fredericksburg: We need better deal from Suns; Fredericksburg City Council to debate new Sally League ballpark; Fredericksburg officials, Quinn discuss new ballpark; Hagerstown, Fredericksburg preparing dueling ballpark plans; Fredericksburg ballpark could end up turning profit for city: study; Fredericksburg ballpark funding plan emerging; Fredericksburg touted as ideal for professional baseball; Hagerstown owner: We’d meet with Fredericksburg about new ballpark; Fredericksburg to study financial impact of new ballpark; Fredericksburg, Opening Day Partners talking new ballpark; Suns: We’ll put up cash for new ballpark if donation falls through; Will new members of Hagerstown City Council kill new-balpark plan?; See for yourself: fans get peek at problems with Municipal StadiumAnonymous donor pledges $15M for new Hagerstown ballpark; Hagerstown: Construction of new ballpark could begin next springWinchester: We’re not optimistic about landing SunsHagerstown takes first step toward ballpark fundingHagerstown mayor: We’re close to long-term lease with Suns; Hagerstown: Let’s begin designing new downtown ballpark


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