Ripken Baseball, the company run by the the Ripken Brothers Cal and Billy, is looking to sell a majority stake of the Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles A Short Season affiliate in the New York-Penn League).
The two brothers have been acting in Minor League Baseball and youth baseball for more than a decade. In previous years the group has sold the Augusta GreenJackets (San Francisco Giants A Full Season affiliate in the South Atlantic League) and the Florida State League (A Advanced) affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Charlotte StoneCrabs.
Now the group is seeking a major shareholder for the IronBirds. Ripken Baseball is doing this to get more resources for its youth baseball initiatives, including a large complex that is situated next to the IronBirds’ Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.
Of course the city of Aberdeen is following this closely as the city wants the IronBirds to stay in Aberdeen.
Councilman Tim Lindecamp urged his colleagues during Monday evening’s Aberdeen City Council meeting to work with Ripken Baseball officials to ensure the team remains in the city, noting the city appears to be in “right field” and the team owners in “left field.”
“I think we really need to understand what they’re trying to do and what we’re trying to do, so we can make this work together so it can benefit the city,” Lindecamp said.“I really believe that stadium can help the city earn some money, if we work together.”
Mayor Patrick McGrady noted he met with Matt Slatus, the team’s new general manger, Monday. “Slatus wants the Ripken Baseball entity to be successful with the city, so to the best of our ability we’re going to do that,” the mayor said.
When you know how the construction of the stadium has been funded, it is quite understandable that the city of Aberdeen wants the IronBirds to stay. The stadium was completed in 2002 for about $18 million, with funding coming from the city, the state, Harford County and the Ripken family; however, the largest share of the cost is carried by Aberdeen.
The city spent $15.4 million on land acquisition and construction. According to city financial reports, some of the land situated next to the stadium, is under a lease/sale agreement with Ripken Baseball. Aberdeen still owes $2.855 million on the funds borrowed for the stadium. The annual amount that has to be paid back is about $596,000 a year, and the final payment is scheduled for June of 2022.
No city would like to get stuck with a stadium without a tennant in a time that the loan needs to be paid back.