The entity that owns the Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) has filed suit against the City of Aberdeen, claiming it has breached its agreement with the team.
In a complaint filed Wednesday in Harford County Circuit Court, Tufton Professional Baseball, LLC–a Ripken-backed entity that includes Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.–made claims alleging that the city has failed to live up to its end of the lease for Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium. Part of the complaint alleges that the city has failed to perform needed capital maintenance to the ballpark, and has held off for years on completing several projects.
Furthermore, the complain alleges that Aberdeen has recouped its initial investment on the ballpark. Under the terms of the original agreement, the management of non-baseball events at the ballpark–with the exception of 15 dates set aside from the city–are to be turned over to Tufton once the city recoups its investment plus the debt service. More from The Aegis:
The suit claims the city has recouped its initial investment into the stadium project — the debt service on $3 million — per a concession agreement entered into Dec. 7, 2000. Once the city has recouped its investment, the lawsuit says, management of the majority of events at the stadium — baseball and nonbaseball — becomes the responsibility of Tufton, based upon the original agreement between the two parties.
The suit also claims Aberdeen has not fulfilled its obligations to undertake and pay for capital maintenance and improvements at the stadium, as is also outlined in the concession agreement.
The suit takes to task Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady, specifically, and the Aberdeen City Council, saying they have been difficult to work with in recent years.
“It is regrettable that after months of negotiations concerning the City’s obligations under our agreement, the City has failed to meet those obligations and instead has sought to impose conditions, risks and costs not included in the agreement. Contracts are meant to be honored. Tufton has done its part. The City needs to do the same. We are now compelled to ask the courts to step in,” John Maroon, a spokesman for Tufton and the Ripkens, said in a statement Wednesday.
Tufton and Aberdeen have been at odds about the management of non-baseball events at the ballpark for some time. After often tense negotiations last year, the two sides 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. In the complaint, Tufton alleges that the city recouped its initial investment last year and has received $4,635,004, $149,000 beyond its debt service on the ballpark, but the city has contended that it has debt remaining on the facility.
Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium originally opened in 2002. The IronBirds’ lease runs through 2022.
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