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IronBirds Ownership Calls on Aberdeen to Fulfill Obligations

Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium

In a recent letter, the Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) ownership group suggested it will take legal action if the city fails to meet obligations relating to Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium

The IronBirds are owned by Tufton Professional Baseball, LLC, a Ripken-backed entity that includes Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. There have been disagreements between the city and the team’s ownership of late, including a dispute over who should run non-baseball events at the ballpark. After often tense negotiations last year, Tufton and the city failed to renew the company’s license agreement for 2018, leading to the city’s February decision to select the outside firm Huntley Sports Group to manage all non-baseball events at the facility.

That remains a point of contention, but IronBirds ownership is also claiming that the city has failed to meet its obligations when it comes to ballpark maintenance and upgrades. A letter from Cal Ripken Jr. dated October 3 hinted at possible legal action against the city if it fails to provide a resolution, calling for an October 9 deadline to end the dispute. More from The Baltimore Sun:

In 2016, a consultant’s study identified about 50 repair and enhancement projects the stadium would need over 10 years, with an estimated price tag of about $3.2 million. The largest single project was a replacement of railings costing about $1 million, which has since been completed….

The letter states that Tufton and the Ripkens want the city to “honor its obligations to undertake capital improvements, major maintenance, and replacements” at the stadium; acknowledge that the city has recouped its 2000 investment in the stadium; “confirm Tufton’s unilateral right” to renew its lease contract for another 20 years, 2023-2042.

“As you know, my brother and I were born and raised in the City of Aberdeen and have great respect for everyone who lives and works in this beautiful part of Maryland,” Ripken wrote.

In the letter, Ripken later states: “Although I wish our lawyers did not have to do so, they are prepared to take legal action against the City of Aberdeen to protect our contractual rights, unless the City and Tufton can reach a mutually acceptable resolution by the close of business on Tuesday, October 9, 2018.”

Currently the IronBirds are playing at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium on a lease that runs through the 2022 season. The city has contended that the ballpark–which opened in 2002–has been a source of financial issues, making previous claims that it has more than $2 million in outstanding debt from the facility’s construction.

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