Ripken Stadium lawsuit served on City of Aberdeen

The City of Aberdeen was officially served Monday with a breach of contract lawsuit filed last week by Cal Ripken Jr. and his baseball company with regard to Ripken Stadium, the city’s lawyer said.

After an Aberdeen City Council meeting Monday night, City Attorney Fred Sussman acknowledged that “officially as of this morning” the city had been served the suit, in which Tufton Professional Baseball LLC, owned by Aberdeen native Ripken and his family, asks Aberdeen to live up to the terms of an agreement made 20 years ago as to how the stadium would be managed.

The complaint was filed last Wednesday in Harford County Circuit Court.

Sussman met for two hours in a closed session with Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady and the four city council members following a special council meeting that was just scheduled on Friday.

The purpose of the meeting was to consult with legal counsel and “consult with staff, consultants or other individuals about pending or potential litigation,” according to a statement McGrady read before closing the meeting.

McGrady had no comment following the closed session.

“It’s good policy to not comment on pending litigation,” McGrady said.

Also in the meeting was Assistant City Engineer Parley Hess.

Tufton claims the city recouped its initial investment of $3 million, plus debt service on the stadium. Once that happens, management of non-baseball events revert to Tufton, except for 15 days each year allocated to the city, according to an agreement the city and Tufton signed in late 2000 as the stadium project was getting underway.

Until that threshold was met, the city had authority to manage non-baseball events except for 15 days allocated annually to Tufton, though it deferred that authority to Tufton, which had been managing most non-baseball events until nearly a year ago.

In 2017, Aberdeen declined to renew a license agreement with Tufton for city events after Tufton refused to renegotiate the Concession Agreement, the lawsuit claims.

Tufton also claims the city has failed to complete major capital projects at the stadium that is beginning to jeopardize the safety of players on the Aberdeen IronBirds minor league baseball team, which plays at the stadium, and guests.

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