The 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 Fredericksburg.com:
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.
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