Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Winchester rejects plan to lure Hagerstown Suns

Officials in Winchester, Va., have voted down a plan aimed at luring the Hagerstown Suns minor-league baseball team to the city.

The plan called for giving land in a city park to the Winchester Development Authority. The authority would have built a multipurpose stadium on the site.

The decision by the City Council, which came Tuesday, was unanimous, said Councilman John A. Willingham.

While he said some council members were turned off from the deal because of the plan to locate the stadium in a city park, his concerns were economic.

“I definitely think that having minor league baseball in our city would be a long-term asset for both economic development and to help boost our tourism,” he said. “The way that the deal was structured and what I was sort of being asked to review [Tuesday] night, as a businessman and a banker, I couldn’t make the economics work within the confines of the existing deal.”

Last month, a public hearing in Winchester regarding a minor-league baseball team drew 25 residents, with all but one speaking against the deal. Opponents cited the economics of the plan, and the potential to disrupt the characters of the park.

If a new proposal came before the council, the members would “absolutely” look at it, Willingham said.

The Suns’ owners signed a letter of intent in January to move the club to Winchester, provided certain conditions are met by April 17. One condition is for city officials to take actions to build a stadium.

But it may be difficult for the council to look at proposals that call for using land outside of the city park — the city’s economic development authority has capped the budget for the new ballpark at $15 million.

Suns’ majority owner Bruce Quinn says club officials are optimistic that the team will either move to Winchester or sign a lease extension with Hagerstown.

The Hagerstown Herald-Mail reported this week that Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II was working to keep the Suns in his city through a two-year lease extension at 82-year-old Municipal Stadium and plans to build a stadium.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.