As it tries to restructure its lease with the Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season A; NY-Penn League), the City of Aberdeen is considering its options for ballpark oversight.
The suggestion from Aberdeen city manager Randy Robertson is to consider having a third party oversee the ballpark. In recent years, Aberdeen has taken a more direct role in its involvement with Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, but with the city trying to manage costs related to the facility, Robertson believes that an independent board might prove to be a operation.
This type of oversight was once utilized in Aberdeen, but was stripped several years ago. More from The Baltimore Sun:
He said revival of the independent stadium commission “might give a third option” of having people oversee the facility “without a dog in the fight.”
When Ripken Stadium first opened, the mayor and council in office at the time created a stadium management board to oversee its operation. The board met regularly, handled the leasing negotiations and scheduling of non-baseball events and issued annual reports, all of which showed the stadium was costing city taxpayers more money than it was taking in.
In November 2013, however, the management board faded away after the stadium concession agreement with Tufton Professional Baseball LLC (aka Ripken Baseball) was renegotiated to give Tufton the right to rent the stadium out for non-baseball events.
At the time, then-city manager Doug Miller said the management board was no longer needed, and oversight of the stadium would go back to the mayor and city council, according to reports in The Record and The Aegis at the time. Robertson succeed Miller, who left Aberdeen to become city manager in Ocean City last winter.
The talks are coming at crucial points for both the city and the IronBirds. Aberdeen’s share of the ballpark debt is due for several more years, and is currently scheduled to be paid off in 2022.
Ripken Baseball, meanwhile, is known to be shopping its majority share of the IronBirds. While the organization would retain some involvement with the team, Ripken Baseball is trying to complete the sale so that it can concentrate on its youth baseball initiatives.