With the Winchester (Va.) City Council walking away from a new ballpark deal for the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League), the team will explore its options staying in Hagerstown.
Those options include a two-year lease extension for Municipal Stadium, the team's current home, as well as discussions about a new downtown ballpark.
Winchester, located across the state line from Hagerstown, had proposed transferring 7.9 acres of park land to the city's economic development authority, which would then borrow $15 million to build a new ballpark. Opposition to the plan centered on two objections: the loss of badly needed parkland and a sweetheart lease that called for the Suns to pay a percentage of revenues, not a base rate, for rent.
With the loss of a Winchester options, Suns owner Bruce Quinn said the team would then turn to talks with Hagerstown officials about a two-year lease extension and a possible new ballpark. Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II had floated plans for a new downtown ballpark and was working with the Suns on a lease extension.
UPDATE: Bruce Quinn issued the following statement today:
"We are still very optimistic that the Suns will either be playing in a new Winchester stadium for the 2013 season or sign a lease extension with the City of Hagerstown thus giving the City, County and State time to firm up the proposed Downtown stadium project for the 2015 season. In both scenarios the Suns have agreed to a base rent and/or revenue share split that will pay down the largest portion of the debt service needed to fund the building of a new stadium. We are excited on the progress we have made towards a new home and want to thank our loyal fans, both communities, Jim Deskins and Mayor Bob Bruchey for the support that we have received."
RELATED STORIES: Winchester seeks lease changes for proposed Suns ballpark; Hagerstown pitches downtown ballpark; Suns: Nationals forcing us from Hagerstown; Hagerstown Suns sign letter of intent for Winchester move; Hagerstown looking at new ballpark to keep Suns; Winchester preparing to offer $15 million ballpark to Suns; Hagerstown Suns in play
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