A downtown location for a Hagerstown Suns ballparks could attract additional investment in the immediate area, says a local developer with a track record of successful downtown projects.
Last week a study pegged a 6.25-acre location at the corner of West Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue as the best site for a new ballpark. It was under consideration the last time the city made a run at a new facility, and the new study from Crossroads Consulting and presented by the Maryland Stadium Authority reaffirmed that selection.
The Suns currently play at outdated Municipal Stadium, and no one seems happy with the arrangement: the team would prefer a new downtown ballpark, while the city would rather see the Municipal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.
Mike Fitzgerald, a downtown investor and developer, agrees with that argument and said that he’s likely to pursue more in the way of area investment with the commitment to a downtown location. From the Herald-Mail:
For Fitzgerald, the best site is Baltimore Street. He said a stadium there “is going to create an opportunity for many, many more projects around it.”
A downtown stadium, Fitzgerald said, would lead to more existing buildings renovated for apartments and condominiums, along with other additional development — millions in new private investment.
“I think this is definitely an urban-improvement project 2.0,” he said. “It would definitely spur me to develop and try to find the right properties to develop in that area. … A stadium now makes more sense than ever. The Maryland Theatre is ramping up. … Students are living downtown. The time is now. Hagerstown is on its way up.”
Fitzgerald has found success in two previous downtown redevelopment projects. In 2013, he bought and revamped the Grand Piano Building at 20 W. Washington St. Three years later, he did the same with the Professional Arts Building at 5 Public Square.
Of course, statements like this don’t equal term sheets and purchase agreements. But if the goal of a new downtown ballpark is to spur economic development, then obviously Fitzgerald’s statements should be taken seriously.
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.
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