Facing the potential loss of the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League), Hagerstown officials are pitching a new downtown ballpark as a way to keep baseball in town.
The Suns are negotiating with Winchester (Va.) officials for a new ballpark in that city, though no final agreement on a lease or funding plan has been been reached. To compete — or to bring in another team (though we would expect territorial issues should the Suns leave) — Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II discussed a new downtown ballpark at the Washington County Hospital site during his State of the City address. It’s a notable move for Bruchey and city officiais: in the past they had talked about renovations to Municipal Stadium as a way to keep the Suns, but apparently that option is off the table. (For good reason: while the bones of the 1930s classic may be sound, it’s a landlocked facility with a limited amount of land on its footprint, making expansion extremely challenging.
The goal for a downtown ballpark: to bring people back into a decaying city core. That’s a tall order, but it can be done. NewBridge Bank Park, home of the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Low Class A; Sally League), was one of several examples used by city officials as playing a role in urban redevelopment. Still, it’s a pretty tall order for a humble ballpark to fill, and while it’s fun to think about a shiny new ballpark, the real work hasn’t even begun: Finding a way to pay for it. That’s the real challenge for Hagerstown and Washington County officials.
Image of NewBridge Bank Park superimposed on downtown Hagerstown site courtesy of the City of Hagerstown.
RELATED STORIES: Suns: Nationals forcing us from Hagerstown; Hagerstown Suns sign letter of intent for Winchester move; Hagerstown looking at new ballpark to keep Suns; Winchester preparing to offer $15 million ballpark to Suns; Hagerstown Suns in play
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