Mayor hoping to present proposed lease extension for Suns
The proposed site of a new stadium for the Hagerstown Suns is north of West Baltimore Street and east of Summit Avennue in downtown Hagerstown. (By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer)
Bruchey said Monday he was hoping to present City Council members Tuesday a proposed lease extension that would permit the Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, to play at Municipal Stadium through the 2014 season.
“I am working very closely with the (majority) owner of Hagerstown Baseball LLC to put together an addendum for a two-year lease extension,” Bruchey said Monday.
“We don’t have the details worked out,” he said.
Bruce Quinn, majority owner of Hagerstown Baseball LLC, emailed The Herald-Mail on Monday afternoon to say he had no comment, at that time, concerning lease negotiations with Hagerstown.
Winchester (Va.) City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to transfer about 8 acres of park land for the possible construction of a new stadium for the Suns. Hagerstown Baseball LLC, the owner of the Hagerstown Suns, signed a letter of intent in January to move the team to Winchester, but some Winchester council members say a no vote on the land transfer Tuesday could kill a move to Winchester.
Winchester’s interim city manager, Craig Gerhart, said he wouldn’t predict the vote results. Told Hagerstown was negotiating a lease extension with the Suns, Gerhart said if he had a baseball team he’d probably want to leave his options open until he had a deal.
The potential lease with Hagerstown could include a possible longer extension if certain actions toward getting a new stadium are met in a specified timeline, Hagerstown Councilwoman Ashley Haywood said. That longer extension would be similar to one Winchester officials were considering if they had a new stadium built for the Suns, she said.
Winchester officials were considering a 22-year lease, according to documents found at the city of Winchester’s website.
If Winchester council members Tuesday approve the transfer of park land to the Winchester Economic Development Authority for construction of a minor league baseball stadium and supporting facilities, that transfer would still be contingent upon getting financing and a lease, Gerhart said.
Haywood said she thinks Winchester officials are unlikely to approve moving forward with a new stadium for the Suns, given that Quinn is negotiating a lease extension for Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium with Bruchey.
Asked if he was concerned about Winchester’s vote Tuesday, Bruchey said, “I’m focused on keeping minor league baseball in Hagerstown. That’s my focus. Whatever Winchester does or does not do, I cannot control that.”
“I don’t have any details concrete that I can talk about. It’s a discussion between (Quinn) and I, and I need to have all my I’s dotted and T’s crossed,” Bruchey said.
Asked if a lease extension would contain a contingency to hammer out details for a new stadium, Bruchey said he didn’t know if lease negotiations would get that far.
At his State of the City Address on March 6, Bruchey displayed a site concept rendering of a ballpark that showed it occupying the area of The Herald-Mail Co. parking lot off Summit Avenue, the Baltimore Street Station Car Wash, the county office building on Baltimore Street and a Laundromat on Summit Avenue. The concept also included a parking deck on the north side of West Antietam Street.
Bruchey said a month ago that he was working on a lease agreement with the Suns that was similar to the lease in Winchester, but would not release details at the time.
Asked what the difference was between the earlier lease discussions and the current ones, Haywood said that, in February, the Suns wanted “greater expenditures on the part of the city.”
If Bruchey does bring a proposed lease extension to the City Council Tuesday, Haywood said she wouldn’t support the council voting on the matter that soon.
There’s “something suspicious about the sudden expediency on the part of the Suns,” Haywood said.