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Suns extend stadium lease in Hagerstown

COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal

The Hagerstown, Md., City Council has agreed to a two-year lease extension, providing the Hagerstown Suns a home stadium as the minor league baseball team attempts to relocate in Fredericksburg.

Owners of the Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, want to build a roughly 5,000-seat stadium in the Celebrate Virginia South development in Fredericksburg.

The owners are partnering with New Jersey-based Diamond Nation to build a complex that would also host amateur baseball and softball camps and tournaments. Activities for other sports are also being considered.

The complex will be primarily privately financed but supported by an array of tax incentives from the city of Fredericksburg, which will build an adjoining parking lot.

The Suns originally hoped to have a stadium built in time for the 2015 season, but that looks increasingly unlikely as principals of the Silver Cos., Diamond Nation and the Suns are currently working to get the construction budget to an affordable level.

The stadium has been estimated to cost roughly $29 million.

Stadium investors are under contract to buy the 38-acre site where former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder had planned to build the U.S. National Slavery Museum.

The slavery museum organization has not paid real estate taxes to the city of Fredericksburg, which has begun the process of selling the land to recoup back taxes, interest and penalties.

In October, after the baseball investors signed a contract to buy the land, the city Treasurer’s Office agreed to pause the tax-sale process for 150 days to give the investors time to further study the site, prepare their construction plans and finalize financing.

Treasurer Brenda Wood granted the investors a 90-day extension in March, giving them until mid-June to purchase the land.

The Hagerstown City Council approved a two-year lease extension by a 3–2 vote on Tuesday.

The extension was required by Minor League Baseball to ensure the team has a place to play.

The lease approved this week extends the team’s use of Hagerstown Municipal Stadium through Dec. 31, 2016.

The Suns will pay $70,000 to lease the stadium for two years and pay all stadium costs such as utilities, maintenance and repairs.

The lease can be terminated by mutual consent in 90 days. The city can immediately reclaim exclusive use of the stadium as soon as the Suns no longer use the stadium as their exclusive site for home games, the contract states.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972