Living with the deal

Mike Bennett is the latest of three mayors of Aberdeen who expressed irritation over the deal the city forged years ago for Ripken Stadium.

Like his two predecessors, when he ran for office, he expressed a desire to negotiate a deal regarding the stadium that would go a little lighter on Aberdeen's municipal finances.

The harsh reality is, however, the deal was made more mayors ago than that and those who made it fell into two distinct categories: hero-worshiping local pols and well-informed people skilled and savvy in the business of professional sports.

Those skilled in the ways of professional sports, not surprisingly, made a good deal for themselves and there has been no moral or legal reason for them to feel compelled to renegotiate because the other side got buyer's remorse.

To his credit, Bennett seems to have come to realize the reality of the situation whereas his predecessors just couldn't come to terms with it.

It seems under his administration, the city government is poised to make the best of the situation. Aberdeen, presumably, has decent credit and interest rates are low, so the city's proposal to refinance its stadium debt has a lot of merit.

Last week, another related proposal was put before the city council: doing away with the city's Stadium Management Board. Established to represent the city's interests in dealing with the stadium's owners, the board, comprised of volunteer members, turned out to have almost no authority to do anything beyond make recommendations and listen to reports. Not surprisingly, the same folks who made the city's financial arrangement with the stadium were also responsible for defining the details of the stadium board's authority.

Sometimes, you just have to cut your losses and move on, and it seems that's the best course of action here. Mayor Bennett and others in city government finally appear to have reconciled themselves to this reality.

And it appears they also haven't forgotten that, regardless of how they may feel about the city's financial arrangement with the Ripken organization and the stadium, they clearly understand the stadium is a community asset. Fittingly, it was high on the list of attractions to be showed off during a recent gathering of Maryland mayors and other elected officials in Aberdeen.

Like it or not, the stadium turned out to be a Big Deal for the city.

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