Soured relations between the Ripken Family, operating as Tufton Professional Baseball LLC, and the City of Aberdeen over the operation and maintenance of Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, home of the IronBirds Class A minor league baseball team, has led Tufton to demand Aberdeen fulfill its obligations under the original 2000 concession agreement between the two parties.
In a strongly worded letter to the City of Aberdeen dated Oct. 3, Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr., president, and CEO of Tufton Professional Baseball LLC, presented the following three demands to the city:
“(1) honor its obligations to undertake capital improvements, major maintenance, and replacements to Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, (2) recognize that the City has been deemed to have recouped its 2000 investment in the Stadium (which recoupment shifts the right to hold most non-baseball Events at the Stadium to Tufton), and (3) confirm Tufton’s unilateral right to renew the Concession Agreement into the 2023-2042 Renewal Term.”
When asked about the notice, Aberdeen City Manager Randy Robertson said Friday afternoon “I have no comment.”
Mayor Patrick McGrady did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The letter also sets a deadline of the close of business Tuesday. If not, there will be legal action, the letter says.
“Regrettably, our on and off negotiations with the Mayor over the past year and our September 20th effort to mediate our disputes have failed to produce any resolution,” wrote Ripken, the former Baltimore Orioles star and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, who grew up in Aberdeen and still has family living there. “And, although I wish our lawyers did not have to do so, they are prepared to take legal action against the City of Aberdeen to protect our contractual rights, unless the City and Tufton can reach a mutually acceptable resolution by the close of business on Tuesday, October 9, 2018.”
Ripken’s letter says he is not happy that the relationship has reached the point where its demands are necessary.
“As you know, my brother and I were born and raised in the City of Aberdeen and have great respect for everyone who lives and works in this beautiful part of Maryland,” the letter begins. “Almost 20 years ago, we joined hand-in-hand to bring a state-of-the-art minor league stadium to the City. Our thought then was – and continues to be – that Ripken Stadium and the entire Ripken Experience Complex, including Cal Sr.’s Yard, are great attributes.”
After further detailing how Ripken Stadium is an asset for the city and the history of how the deal came about, including that he and his brother, Bill, “personally invested more than $6 million in the Stadium, more than the City itself invested, ”Ripken writes that negotiations have stalled and Tufton wants action.
“So, it is with a heavy heart that after many months of trying to encourage the Mayor and the City of Aberdeen to honor their obligations under the 2000 Concession Agreement that I am compelled to send you this Notice of Demand – but, a deal is a deal and contracts are meant to be honored.”
Tufton, through John Maroon, the longtime representative of the organization and the Ripkens, said Friday afternoon there would be no further comment beyond the contents of the letter.