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Scope of Downtown Hagerstown Ballpark Project Up in the Air

Proposed Hagerstown Suns ballpark site

The scope of a proposed downtown Hagerstown ballpark is up for discussion, as the City Council will discuss tomorrow exactly what they’re looking for in downtown development–or even if a new ballpark will be part of the plan.

The Hagerstown Suns (Low A; Sally League) currently play at outdated Municipal Stadium, and no one seems happy with the arrangement: the team would prefer a new downtown ballpark, while the city would rather see the Municipal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. In May 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 next step would be a more in-depth market study, but before that happens, the Hagerstown City Council wants to discuss the issue. There’s a split on the council, with some members adamantly against a new ballpark and some wanting to see downtown development via a new ballpark. From the Herald-Mail:

“I don’t think the council right now has enough information to know what their will is with regards to this whole thing,” Councilman Austin Heffernan said Wednesday. “I think there’s been an effort on the part of the mayor to push this thing a little too fast.”

Council members said this past week that they all agree something is needed to boost downtown revitalization, but they still need to come to a consensus on their vision for such a project and decide if it will involve baseball or not….

Heffernan and other council members said they want answers before committing up to $300,000 in state capital dollars previously secured for the next phase of study into some type of venue downtown, whether its a multiuse facility with a ballpark or doesn’t include baseball at all.

“If we don’t get those answers out of phase two, then phase two is worthless,” Heffernan said. “It’s just a waste of time. It’s a waste of my taxpayer money as a Maryland resident.”

The council is expected to take up the issue at a meeting tomorrow.

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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