In the midst of an ongoing lawsuit and countersuit between the City of Aberdeen and Tufton Professional Baseball, the city has hired a contractor to make structural repairs to Ripken Stadium.
Tufton, owned by Aberdeen natives Cal and Bill Ripken and operator of the Aberdeen IronBirds, which play at Ripken Stadium, filed suit against Aberdeen last fall for breach of contract over stadium management for non-baseball events.
The city filed a countersuit earlier in January claiming Tufton didn’t live up to its end of the contract in terms of maintenance at the stadium.
Aberdeen City Council members voted unanimously at its meeting Monday night to award a $535,000 contract to Brayman Construction Corp. of Saxonburg, Pa., to fix part of a retaining wall with a ramp on the third-base side of the stadium.
“For the past several years, the wall has been pushing out, to the point it’s going to fail,” Aberdeen Public Works Director Kyle Torster told the council.
The city hired an engineering firm, which said micro-piles would have to be drilled in front of the wall, a new wall would have to be poured and a new anchoring system would have to be drilled into the existing wall and into the ground.
The city received five bids and chose the lowest one.
“Why did this happen?” Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady asked.
As Torster began to explain, City Manager Randy Robertson cut him off.
“You may not want to do this in an open forum; it’s a matter for litigation,” Robertson said. “We have our feeling why it failed, what contributed to it. It’s just a thought.”
McGrady said the bids for the project came in significantly higher than what was budgeted, by about $200,000, he said.
The funds are available — with some money coming from a previous lighting project — and the contract is ready to go, Torster said.
The project should be done before the IronBirds begin play this season, he said.
The retaining wall project is guaranteed for a year, Torster said.
The retaining wall is first priority of three repairs Aberdeen is prepared to undertake at the stadium.
In addition to the wall, the city will replace the field lights, which is expected to cost about $55,000, Robertson said. The city will also repair the roof of the stadium and may need to amend its budget to make funds available for that, but they’ll have a better idea once the light project is bid.
The lawsuit between Aberdeen and Tufton isn’t scheduled to go to trial for a year, on Feb. 2, 2020; the non-jury trial is estimated to last about 10 days, according to court filings.