Aberdeen IronBirds ownership (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) and Aberdeen intend to settle their legal dispute, agreeing to a plan to end litigation and provide a road map for future ballpark upgrades.
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 last 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 Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium 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 two sides are working toward a settlement of that dispute, as both parties signed a November 4 memorandum of understanding that addresses high-priority upgrades to Ripken Stadium that would be completed in the near future. Additionally, the agreement calls on the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) to outline future capital maintenance plans. The MSA board approved the MOU this week. More from the Baltimore Business Journal:
As part of the MOU, the Maryland Stadium Authority will reimburse Tufton and the city for capital improvements at Ripken Stadium using grant money allocated by the Maryland General Assembly this legislative session. State lawmakers approved a $300,000 grant this spring for upgrades to the ballpark and pre-authorized another $700,000 grant to be disbursed in fiscal 2021.
High-priority capital projects, according to the agreement, include installation of field netting, replacement of the ballpark’s turf and infield dirt, switching out existing lighting for energy-efficient LED lights and addressing problems with birds nesting in the stadium.
Tufton already paid $18,820 to install field netting before the start of the 2019 baseball season and can apply to the stadium authority for reimbursement under the MOU.
The agreement also asks the stadium authority to oversee a facility assessment analyzing the current and projected condition of the stadium and its systems. That report, in turn, will help shape capital and ordinary maintenance plans that the MOU directs the stadium authority to prepare.