In a departure from the norm, the vast majority of residents speaking at a city forum came out for spending public money on a new downtown ballpark for the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League).
When the public is invited to speak on something as controversial as government spending on a ballpark, you get a large contingent arguing against such spending: Tea Partiers against all forms of public spending, lefties who always assume school spending is going to be cut as a result, and NIMBY folks worried about traffic, noise and drunken fans stumbling through their yard.
Last night, 18 residents asked to speak on the topic of a new downtown ballpark: 16 were for, two against. (Although the one against wasn’t actually against spending on baseball: she argued in favor of fixing up historic Municipal Stadium.)
There’s some momentum for a new ballpark in Hagerstown. Ripken Design, a consultant hired by the city to evaluate the merits of a new downtown project as well as any renovations of Municipal Stadium, laid out a funding plan for a $30-million downtown ballpark with a third of the cost picked up by the Maryland Stadium Authority and two-thirds fro the city, county, developers and team (in unspecified proportions). It doesn’t address where the local funding would come from, but indicates the ballpark investment could be paid off in 10 years. Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey II has since talked with Suns owner Bruce Quinn about a funding plan and expressed optimism about working things out.
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