Hagerstown, Washington County agree to fund stadium

HAGERSTOWN — Washington County is agreeing to help fund construction of a minor-league baseball stadium in downtown Hagerstown.

The Herald-Mail reports that county commissioners and the city council agreed Tuesday on a plan involving local public expenditures of up to $16 million over 20 years.

The $30 million project also would require state and private funding. Gov. Martin O’Malley and state Comptroller Peter Franchot have both expressed support.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey proposed the project in March to replace 80-year-old Municipal Stadium, home of the Hagerstown Suns. The Suns say Municipal Stadium has a sub-standard playing surface and antiquated clubhouse facilities.

Winchester, Va., is also courting the Suns, a Class-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

Bruchey says baseball games could be played at a new stadium as soon as 2014.



One comment

  1. I love baseball, but this is such a bad idea for Hagerstown. The proposed stadium is bordered by a historic residential district, an assisted living facility for the elderly, and St. John’s church. There are restrictions on noise levels and lighting, not to mention the traffic and parking. The proposed new parking deck will only accommodate 500 cars. The only other available parking is in the existing decks and metered lots. This means NO TAILGATING. Of course, there will be food available at the stadium, but how does that benefit the downtown businesses? It will be impossible to park downtown during the games.
    Has anyone actually read the Ripkin Report? Basically, Ripkin Group was asked to produce a report that showed that a $30 million stadium could be paid for. Has any financial analyst ever reviewed this report? It is so full of fluff and rosy projections without any basis on previous performance. Examples are given of successful stadium projects, but every example was in an area where there was existing land for development or buildings that could be demolished.
    A price tag of $30 million was mentioned in the report, but there was no mention as to how this would be spent. At a meeting with the city last Thursday, homeowners in the Prospect Historic district were told that $4 million was to be spent on land acquisition. That has got to be far below the market value of such a large property. What will it cost to build the parking deck?
    The estimates given to rebuild the existing stadium to high standards were between $4-$14 million. That is far less than the cost of building a downtown stadium and would create a better environment for enjoying a baseball game.
    So, why is the city pushing so hard to build a downtown stadium? It can’t be to benefit the downtown businesses. Without parking, they will die. Only the stadium will survive.
    Are we really so flush with money that we, as a city, can afford this project? At a time when middle income families are being asked to “tighten their belts” and do more with less, this is just a bad idea. The city is cutting back on police and emergency services, cutting back on education, cutting back on everything, but somehow there is money to “gamble” on a new stadium.
    Let’s put our money into supporting the businesses that are already struggling to bring life to the downtown. What about some support for the Maryland Theater? More downtown events? This would cost only a fraction of what a stadium would cost and yield a greater return.

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