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Aberdeen Countersues IronBirds Ownership

Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium

In response to a lawsuit filed last fall, the City of Aberdeen has filed a countersuit against the Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) ownership entity over the state of Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.

IronBirds owner Tufton Professional Baseball, LLC–a Ripken-backed entity that includes Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.–filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Aberdeen in October, contending that the city was not living up to its end of the lease agreement between the two sides. Several grievances were expressed in the original lawsuit, with one of the key sticking points being that the city has failed to perform needed capital maintenance to the ballpark and has held off for years on completing several projects.

The city has now filed a countersuit against Tufton. While the countersuit seeks to debunk several claims from Tufton’s complaint, one of the city’s more prominent contentious is that the ownership entity is not meeting its obligations for non-capital maintenance and has failed in the recent past to produce an adequate maintenance plan. More from The Aegis:

“Tufton’s failure to prepare an adequate maintenance program and failing to perform its Non-Capital maintenance obligations have expedited the deterioration of Ripken Stadium to the point that that some of Tufton’s Non-Capital maintenance obligations have become Capital maintenance,” according to the countersuit.

The city claims that, according to a concession agreement, Tufton is responsible for an array of maintenance at the stadium, and is required to submit a maintenance plan.

Not only were Tufton’s plans non-existent from 2011 to 2016, the plans submitted in 2017 and 2018 only included the names of companies the baseball organization would use in the event it undertook any projects, the countersuit says.

“The city has fulfilled its obligation under the Concession Agreement and will continue to do so. It is Tufton, which has not submitted a maintenance program to the city in nearly a decade and which has failed to undertake numerous items of non-Capital maintenance, that has not lived up to its obligations under the Concession Agreement,” according to the suit.

In addition, one of the key points of contention between IronBirds ownership and the city is the management of non-baseball events at the ballpark, as Tufton’s original complaint alleged that Aberdeen has recouped its initial investment. 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. However, the city claims in its countersuit that the recoupment date has yet to occur.

Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium originally opened in 2002. The IronBirds’ current lease runs through 2022.

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