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IronBirds Ownership, Aberdeen to Negotiate Legal Dispute

Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium

Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) ownership and the city will negotiate differences in their ongoing dispute over the state of Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, as the two sides have requested a stay of litigation.

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 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 filed a countersuit against Tufton in January, contending among other issues 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.

The city is still making plans to further fund its legal fees, but on Tuesday the two sides filed a request in Harford County Circuit Court for a stay in litigation. With a stay in litigation, the two parties would be able to pause proceedings and extend deadlines outlined in the case as they work to negotiate some issues relating to the dispute. More from The Aegis:

“After the commencement of fact discovery, the parties began to engage in discussions in an effort to resolve this litigation. These discussions are ongoing,” the joint motion states. “In order to enable the parties to continue these discussions without unnecessarily expending resources to litigate this case, the parties request that the court stay the litigation for 90 days, commencing on May 1, 2019 and concluding on July 30, 2019.”

Both sides would like to reschedule the potential court dates, as “the parties believe that maintaining dates certain for trial and related hearings will focus any resolution of this litigation,” according to the filing.

During this year’s Maryland General Assembly session, $300,000 was allocated in a bond bill to pay for extension of field netting, field replacement and an LED lighting system replacement at the stadium, “provided that these funds may not be expended until the Maryland Stadium Authority, Tufton (Ripken Baseball), and the City of Aberdeen enter into a memorandum of understanding for the scheduling of the work and expenditure of the funds on the prioritized projects (Harford County).”

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

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