With Hagerstown moving ahead on a bonding plan on a new downtown ballpark for the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A: Sally League), Winchester (Va.) officials aren’t optimistic about landing the team.
With the proposal already a long shot, Winchester officials now say they pretty have given up on the chance to land the Suns, a plan once met with great enthusiasm but ended up fizzling out because of public opposition to a proposed ballpark site and the lack of public money.
“I have not heard anything that leads me to believe that this is moving forward,” Winchester City Council President Jeffrey Buettner told The Winchester Star.
“If we’re being viewed as a fallback, I’m not sure that even works without losing another whole season.”
In the end, it’s probably about the money. Hagerstown isn’t looking for a big investment from the Suns to build a ballpark, where the funding is being cobbled together from city, county and state sources, with the Suns paying a standard rent. By contrast, Winchester’s ballpark plan calls for Suns ownership to put up $10 million for a facility. The downtown Hagerstown proposal is for a $30-million facility — which will buy you a lot of ballpark these days — while the Winchester ballpark proposal is considerably more modest.
No wonder Suns owner Bruce Quinn has not been in contact with Winchester in the last six weeks.
The city and county funding is assured; all sides are waiting on whether Maryland can commit money to a new ballpark, a decision that won’t come until 2013. A new Hagerstown ballpark wouldn’t open until 2015.
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