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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Suns required to seek lease extension in Hagerstown

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Hagerstown_Suns_Cap_LogoThe Hagerstown Suns are seeking to extend their lease with the Maryland city for the 2015 and 2016 seasons even though the minor league baseball team plans to be playing in Fredericksburg by then.

The Suns, a Class-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, have applied to Minor League Baseball to relocate to Fredericksburg in time for the start of the 2015 season.

The Suns plan to build a 5,000-seat stadium in Celebrate Virginia South on land that was once targeted for the U.S. National Slavery Museum. The team is partnering with New Jersey-based Diamond Nation, which will build turf fields around the stadium complex that will be used for amateur baseball and softball camps and tournaments.

An investment group including the owners of Diamond Nation and the Suns plans to buy the 38 acres within the next couple of months and start construction on the complex early this spring.

Nonetheless, a Minor League Baseball rule required the Suns to seek a lease extension at Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium as a backup.

“When a club applies to relocate, one of the standard requirements is that the club have a backup plan in case construction delays or other issues prevent the club from opening the new stadium on time,” MiLB spokesman Steve Densa wrote in an email.

One of the Suns’ minority owners was in front of Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday with a proposal to lease Municipal Stadium for the 2015 and 2016 baseball seasons, Hagerstown’s Herald-Mail newspaper reportedThe team’s current lease expires at the end of the 2014 season.

The Suns offered to pay Hagerstown $50,000 upfront for the two-year lease extension, the newspaper reported. The matter was not resolved at Tuesday’s meeting.