A study of potential sites for a new Hagerstown Suns (Low A; Sally League) ballpark is recommending a downtown location — a site that’s been previously pushed in prior new-ballpark efforts.
The 6.25-acre location at the corner of West Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue, identified by Crossroads Consulting and presented by the Maryland Stadium Authority as the best site for a new ballpark, was under consideration the last time the city made a run at a new facility. The Suns currently play at outdated Municipal Stadium, and no one seems happy with the arrangement: the team would prefer a new downtown ballpark, while the city would rather see the Municipal Stadium site converted for use by youth athletics. There have been several runs at a new downtown ballpark over the years, with local government officials also arguing for a downtown location as an economic-development tool.
The report examined other Sally League markets and came to the conclusion that a new ballpark would cost between $35 million to $45 million (the same as recent new facilities like Segra Park, opening in 2016 as home of the Columbia Fireflies) and draw just under 200,000 to baseball games and other events. More importantly, the report (which you can read here) identified the Hagerstown market as a growing one, with the demographics desired by most MiLB teams. From the Herald-Mail:
Council members Kristin Aleshire and Emily Keller questioned why the report only looked at “urban core renewal” sites. Aleshire later said that he felt the city was being “railroaded” into a certain location by the report.
While they looked at other sites, the three downtown locations represented the best choices for a project that would provide the most economic development opportunity for the city, said Al Tyler, vice president of economic development for the stadium authority.
The report also analyzed the market feasibility for a new ballpark. Consultants said the region is growing, the population is relatively young overall and median income levels, while lower than the state average, are similar to the national average.
The report to the city is just the beginning of the process: expect there to be plenty of debate on the City Council on whether the city should be involved in a new ballpark at all. The next step, if there is one, would be a more in-depth study, which would be decided upon in June.
Editor’s note: Ballpark Digest managing editor Zach Spedden is the son of Dan Spedden, the local tourism official involved in this effort. Zach Spedden was not involved in the preparation of this article.