Aberdeen, MD is preparing its legal defense against the Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) ownership entity, which recently filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the city.
In a complaint filed last month 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, it is claimed 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.
As part of its response, the City of Aberdeen is planning an initial budget of $150,000 to launch its defense. That plan took a step forward on Monday, when the city council voted 3-1 to introduce an amendment to the fiscal year 2019 budget that would allow the transfer of $150,000 from the general fund to the city’s stadium fund. A public meeting on that amendment is set for later this month. More from The Aegis:
The council will hold a public hearing on the budget amendment at its next meeting, Nov. 26.
“This is the first of probably others,” [Aberdeen City Manager Randy] Robertson said about the budget transfer. “We thought we’d start in piecemeal bits and see where we are in a few months.”
Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady said the price tag could be higher.
“It’s possible this does not cover all the legal expenses as a result of pending litigation and we will have to revisit that at a future date,” McGrady said. “We think it is appropriate to fund this now so that we have the money we need for the decisions we need to make going forward.”
Prior to the recent lawsuit, the team’s ownership and the city had been at odds over the management of non-baseball events at the ballpark. 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.
Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium originally opened in 2002, with the IronBirds’ current lease running through 2022.
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