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Bill Freehling is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Bill Freehling.
Hagerstown Suns to meet with city Tuesday
COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal
Representatives of the Hagerstown Suns will meet privately with Fredericksburg officials Tuesday to discuss a potential deal that would lead to the minor league baseball team relocating here.
Fredericksburg City Manager Bev Cameron said he and City Council member Fred Howe will meet with Suns officials in Fredericksburg to continue negotiations. The meeting will not be open to the public.
Cameron said City Council will probably vote on the final baseball proposal at its Aug. 27 meeting. He said both the city and the team, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, are ready for a resolution on discussions that have been occurring off and on for most of the year.
Cameron said information on the final proposal that Council will vote on Aug. 27 will be available to the public prior to the meeting.
The Suns want to build a 5,000-seat, multi-purpose stadium at Celebrate Virginia South, potentially on the 38-acre site that was once to be home to the National Slavery Museum if that land can be acquired at auction or through a negotiated sale. The team has also partnered with New Jersey-based Diamond Nation with plans for at least five artificial turf fields surrounding the stadium that could be used for baseball and softball amateur tournaments and camps.
Much of the discussion has focused on who would pay for the complex, which Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn estimates would cost between $37 million and $38 million.
The initial proposal was for the city to pay for the stadium, and for the team to pay the city rent and contribute a portion of its revenues. That plan was widely criticized at a July 9 public hearing in front of City Council.
Since then the Suns and the city have been working on alternative financing plans and negotiating back and forth.
The Suns are now asking the city to pay for the 1,800-space parking lot for the stadium complex, a cost Quinn has estimated at between $7 million and $8 million not including land acquisition. The remainder of the upfront costs would be privately financed under the Suns’ proposal.
Quinn said the team also wants the city to return all tax revenues generated at the complex, provide police and fire protection at events and pay for utilities.
Cameron said the city has made a counter-proposal and is waiting to hear back from the team. He declined to give details about the city’s offer.
City Council member Brad Ellis was appointed to serve on a negotiating committee with Howe and Cameron at Council’s July 9 meeting. Ellis will not attend Tuesday’s meeting to avoid running into issues with the Freedom of Information Act, Cameron said.