After just seven-and-a-half months of managing the Town of Purcellville’s Fireman’s Field Complex, Shaun Alexander Enterprises is backing out.
The town on Friday announced that, effective Sept. 1, the firm will no longer manage operations of the complex, which includes the Bush Tabernacle. According to the statement, “the town intends to pursue appropriate remedies, and also is engaging in discussions with [Alexander’s firm].”
The town also announced that it was “working quickly to ensure continuity of operations at the Bush Tabernacle and Fireman’s Field.”
The firm, which is led by the former Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins running back, signed a contract with the town in December to operate and maintain the 15.89-acre complex between Dec. 30, 2017 and Dec. 29, 2022, replacing Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services after 33 years. It was required to pay the town $120,000 in 2018, with annual payments going up by $10,000 each year. Starting in the third year of the contract, the town was also slated to get 10 percent of the gross annual advertisement revenue if it exceeded $150,000.
From the time the firm took over until the end of July, it was partnered with Play to Win, a regional sports management company that also operates the Evergreen Sportsplex near Leesburg. Last month, Play to Win notified Alexander’s firm that it would terminate its contract and no longer manage day-to-day operations in the complex.
Alexander has not responded to emails for comment.
The contract resulted from a push by the Town Council to increase revenue generated by town-owned properties. The push to better monetize the property proved problematic.
Although representatives from Alexander’s firm and Play to Win last fall said they would continue to support all youth athletic leagues that use the complex, specifically the Upper Loudoun Youth Football League, they announced in April that user fees would increase—proposing that rental fees go up to $70 per hour.
This would have cost the football league nearly $13,000 for the 2018 season, about $4,000 more than it had paid the county’s parks department in previous years. In response, the league announced that it would no longer practice or play at the complex, after 49 years of doing so.
At that point, Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) sent a letter to Mayor Kwasi Fraser and the Town Council suggesting that the county resume maintenance of the field, which would help to lower the rates. The town, county and Alexander’s firm then began negotiating a deal that could eventually see the county return to the complex to manage operations and maintain the fields for most of the year. Steve Torpy, the director of the county’s parks department, said that nothing new has come from those talks.
Buffington said that he has “continued positive discussions” with Fraser and Town Manager David Mekarski and that both are aware that the county’s offer still stands. “My goal remains to ensure the field is made available to our local youth leagues at County Parks & Rec rates,” he said.
Alexander’s firm in April also requested an $87,500 reimbursement for initial cleanup, repairs and maintenance of the complex. Under the terms of the contract, however, the town was required to reimburse the firm only $60,000—$10,000 for an initial cleanup, $25,000 for initial repairs to the Bush Tabernacle and up to $25,000 annually for maintenance, repair and upkeep of the complex.
While the Town Council in June voted to approve the $60,000 reimbursement, a motion to approve an additional $25,000 reimbursement failed to pass.
Requests for comments from Fraser and Vice Mayor Ryan Cool, who spearheaded the Fireman’s Field contract negotiations, were not returned.