Officials in Winchester, Va., have reportedly presented a proposal to Hagerstown Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn that could result in a new multiuse stadium being built to lure the longtime minor league baseball team there, according to an unconfirmed published report.
But the report did not trouble city Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, who said at Hagerstown City Council meeting Tuesday night that there has “definitely” been progress toward a new long-term lease to keep the Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals from moving.
“I believe that we’re very close to a lease, which is why there’s no decision being made in Winchester right now,” Bruchey said after the council meeting. “I also know that comments made in ... The Winchester Star from Mr. Deskins were very pointed. And we appreciate that.”
Earlier Tuesday, The Winchester Star reported that Jim Deskins, executive director of the Winchester Economic Development Authority, had delivered a proposal to Quinn, but the team owner requested more time to consider his options.
Quinn acknowledged that he received the proposal, but did not have a chance to fully evaluate it, according to the newspaper report.
Neither Deskins nor Quinn responded to telephone messages seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.
Hagerstown officials have been in ongoing talks with Quinn, attempting to forge a new 20-year lease that would keep the team here, and could produce a downtown multiuse sports and events center at the corner of Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue.
Bruchey said he spoke to Quinn twice Tuesday, noting that Quinn was in Charleston, S.C., for the South Atlantic League All-Star game, which featured several Suns players.
Despite Winchester’s reported advances, Bruchey said Hagerstown remains “very, very much alive” in the Suns sweepstakes.
Deskins did not provide any specifics about the city’s offer, according to The Star, but a decision is expected later this month on whether to move forward with the project.
In the newspaper’s report, Deskins made several comments aimed at Hagerstown and Washington County officials about using public funding to help finance the estimated $30 million facility and adjacent parking deck.
City and county officials have agreed to a potential funding formula to provide up to $800,000 annually for 20 years to help fund the project, along with portions coming from the Suns and the private sector, Hagerstown officials have said.
The remaining one-third of the project is expected to be paid for by the state, but funding likely cannot be secured until the Maryland General Assembly reconvenes in 2013.
Deskins has maintained that Winchester’s proposed project would be fully funded by money generated by the facility’s operation, and a substantial investment would be required from the ballclub.