Less than two weeks after Shaun Alexander Enterprises informed the Purcellville leaders it would pull out of its deal to manage operations at Fireman’s Field, the company wants back in.
Town Manager David Mekarski this week said that Alexander, the former Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins running back, had rescinded his firm’s contract termination, which the town initially announced Aug. 17, would have taken effect Sept. 1. The termination was viewed by the town as a breach of contract. The Town Council met in closed session to discuss the situation Aug. 27.
Mekarski said that, for now, the Bush Tabernacle, which is a part of the 15.89-acre town-owned Fireman’s Field complex, will remain open and that all previously scheduled events will be honored, as the town staff works to negotiate a new deal with Alexander that could include contract modifications to allow for his company to resume management of the entire complex.
“We’ll get more definition probably later this week,” Mekarski said. “It’s still a very fluid situation.”
Under the terms of Alexander’s existing contract, which was set to run from December 2017 through December 2022, he was required to pay the town $120,000 in 2018, with annual payments escalating by $10,000 each year. Starting in the third year of the contract, he was also required to pay the town 10 percent of the gross annual advertisement revenue generated on the property if it exceeded $150,000.
Alexander took over management of the complex on Jan. 1, replacing the Purcellville Teen Center’s management of the Bush Tabernacle after more than a decade and the Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services’ management of the athletic fields after 33 years.
In the days that followed Alexander’s announcement that he wanted to end his contract, three firms sent the town proposals to manage the Tabernacle on a temporary basis—one from Discover Purcellville; one from Play to Win, which partnered with Alexander’s firm to manage day-to-day operations in the complex from Jan. 1 through the end of July; and another from Phil Message, the former president of the teen center.
Upon hearing that Alexander wanted to rescind his contract termination, the town staff held an emergency closed session with the Town Council on Aug. 27. The next day, Administration Director Hooper McCann and Town Attorney Sally Hankins informed Discover Purcellville, Play to Win and Message that their proposals would be placed on hold as the town negotiates with Alexander.
Discover Purcellville President Michael Oaks said that his nonprofit would love to run the tabernacle permanently and that his team worked about 20 hours to put together a 25-page proposal for the town to consider. It included plans to hold “a lot more community events” in the tabernacle. “We know we can do a fantastic job there,” he said.
Message said that the town reached out to him to ask if he would be interested in returning to manage operations in the tabernacle, which prompted him to submit his proposal. He feels that the town has the legal ability to reinstate his teen center contract, which was slated to continue through October 2020, but was terminated by the town at the end of last year to allow Alexander’s firm to take over.
“We’ll see what happens now,” Message said. “We have an interest in resuming our operations there.”
As negotiations with Alexander’s firm continue, the town’s maintenance division will be keeping an eye on the complex’s athletic fields. Meksarki said that the town is continuing to work with the county on a deal that could see a transfer in management of the sports fields.
Mekarski also said that the town and Alexander are exploring ideas to expand the tabernacle’s hours and days of operation and looking to add more events specifically for teens and events on Saturdays for adults and families.
He is tentatively set to present the Town Council with an update on the situation at its next meeting on Sept. 11.