Construction on a new downtown ballpark for the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League) could begin as early as spring 2013 if things come together, according to a progress report issued by Hagerstown.
Here’s the fuil press release:
The City of Hagerstown is continuing its efforts to create a significant downtown revitalization project featuring the construction of a Multi-Use Sports & Events Center MUSEC at Summit Avenue and Baltimore Street. To date progress is encouraging, and the City remains committed to moving forward with both public and private sector partners in an effort to make this project become a reality for our community.
The Mayor and Council view this project as an opportunity to leverage significant private and State funding to combine with County and City funding to revitalize deteriorated properties, support downtown businesses, and bring people to our City Center. Retaining minor league baseball as a local business, employer, and community asset is important to Hagerstown’s economy.
For the Mayor and Council this is more than a stadium project. This is an effort to create a downtown revitalization project that brings vitality to our City Center and is a source of community pride for many years. There is much work that remains to be done and final decisions to be made by the City, but there is progress to report. The Mayor and Council would like to share the following information with our citizens:
Private Sector Funding Support: The City has always viewed private sector financial support as a critical component of this project. This support from the private sector can come in the form of naming rights, funding for the construction of the stadium, and investment in properties near the project site. To date the level of private sector interest from both investors and developers has been very encouraging, and the City has devoted much time to evaluating private sector funding concepts. Not all of these prospective investors have proven to be viable. Some have been strictly conceptual, without solid financial backing. Some have not presented viable funding plans. But there remain others who are seriously exploring investment opportunities in the stadium and adjacent property along with naming rights for the project. There are no finalized funding commitments, but there are viable opportunities for the City to achieve significant private sector financial support for the project.
MUSEC Use and Ownership: Based on the current project concept, the City would own and control the MUSEC and lease the stadium to the Hagerstown Suns. In addition to at least 70 baseball games, there will be additional non-baseball events held at the MUSEC, some by the team and others by the City. It is also envisioned that there will be community-based events at the MUSEC that will involve local organizations and non-profit agencies.
Maryland Stadium Authority and Lease Negotiations: Lease negotiations are ongoing. The City and the Hagerstown Suns are in the process of developing a long-term lease. It is anticipated the lease will be for 20 years with two options for five-year renewals. The business terms of this lease, both for the team and the City, along with the management and control of the facility, are primary issues in these negotiations. In addition, language to protect the City from minor league baseball leaving Hagerstown will be critical. The Maryland Stadium Authority is assisting Hagerstown in developing the lease. This State agency has experience in the development of minor league stadium projects throughout the state and knowledge of community standards and practices for such projects. The City’s attorney is developing the lease document.
State Funding Request: Mayor Bruchey, along with other community representatives, met with the Governor’s Chief of Staff and Chief Legislative Officer in late June to request $10 million in state funding support. The Governor’s Office indicated the City’s request was reasonable and consistent with the State’s involvement with other minor league stadium projects. The City’s goal is to have the $10 million included in the Governor’s Capital Budget with this funding ultimately approved by the State Legislature.
Project Partners: The Washington County Commissioners, Chamber of Commerce, Hagerstown Washington County Economic Development Commission, Hagerstown Suns Fan Club, the Downtown Alliance, Greater Hagerstown Committee, Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation CHIEF, and local business leaders and organizations have been providing support for this effort. The City has been taking the lead role but has received significant support and involvement from others in the community.
Stadium Design: The City has partnered with HKS, an architectural and design firm with extensive experience in professional baseball stadiums, to develop conceptual sketches for the MUSEC. These preliminary drawings will show the placement of the stadium on the proposed site at Summit and Baltimore along with public access through a stadium plaza/entranceway. Preparation of the full construction plans and the final architectural and site design will be awarded by the City after an extensive competitive proposal process.
Stadium Construction: If the project moves forward, construction would most likely begin in the first half of 2013.
Traffic and Parking: The City’s Engineering Division completed a traffic impact study. Based on projected traffic volumes from the baseball games, the results indicate that eight intersections included in the study maintain the same high Level of Service LOS. One intersection degraded to LOS “E” Washington at Summit/Jonathan. An “event day” signal timing plan will mitigate traffic issues.
Based on the Rich and Associate’s City Center Parking Study, there are currently more than 3,800 public and non-residential private parking spaces within a ½ mile radius about four blocks in any direction of the proposed site. A proposed new parking deck could add in the order of 350-450 more spaces. An essential part of minimizing congestion will be advising event patrons so they know where the parking is available.
Site Analysis and Property Acquisition: A Phase I Environmental Assessment of the proposed site is complete. The Mayor and Council have authorized staff to proceed with the Phase II Environmental assessment. The site has previously been the location of railroad operations, a dry cleaner, and gas stations. There will be environmental considerations associated with these prior uses. This was anticipated when the site was identified for consideration. Mayor and Council have also authorized staff to get property appraisals for the stadium site and adjacent properties.
Other Communities: Hagerstown has learned much from visiting and studying minor league baseball stadium projects in York, Harrisburg, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania along with those in Maryland. This has reinforced that there is merit to the selected site, the current project concept, and the Mayor and Council’s goals for downtown revitalization associated with this project. The City has found these projects have generated a source of community pride, private sector investment, and strong citizen support.
Public Information Opportunities: ning early this fall the City anticipates holding public information sessions that will provide citizens the opportunity to meet with City representatives to ask questions and receive information related to the project. The Mayor and Council are committed to providing information to the public.
Current Sources of Public Information: Citizens are encouraged to visit the project’s website at http://supportdowntownhagerstown.com and the City’s website at www.hagerstownmd.org to read more about this project. The project’s website has sections including: Frequently Asked Questions, Letters of Support and Videos/What People are Saying about the Project.
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