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Hagerstown formally approved for 2023 Atlantic League debut

Atlantic League 2018The Atlantic League has officially approved the entry of a new Hagerstown team into the MLB Partner League for the 2023 season, playing in a new ballpark backed by the Maryland Stadium Authority.

The new team’s ownership group: Howard “Blackie” Bowen, Don Bowman, James Holzapfel and Frank Boulton.

“We are very excited to bring high quality professional baseball to Hagerstown through the Atlantic League. We are also pleased to have our new first class ballpark located in downtown Hagerstown, where it will stimulate additional economic development for our community,” Bowen said via press release.

The team will play in a new Hagerstown Multi-Use Sports and Event Facility, with the MSA issuing up to $59.5 million in bonds to finance the acquisition, design, construction and related expenses for the facility. Additionally, Governor Larry Hogan’s supplemental budget provided $8.5 million dollars towards this effort, while the General Assembly designated another $1.5 million in the 2023 Capital Budget for the project. 

The MSA was established 35 years ago and managed the construction and design of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the world-class facility in Major League Baseball that inspired urban revitalization across the nation.

“We are excited that Atlantic League baseball is coming to Hagerstown,” said ALPB President Rick White via press release. “We are grateful to the State of Maryland for its commitment to a downtown recreational venue built for the enjoyment of all Hagerstown and Washington County residents.”

In addition to serving as the home of a new team in the Atlantic League, the facility will be designed to host other sports, cultural and community events. According to a press release, city, county and state officials with the ownership group believe the facility will be a catalyst for downtown revitalization and inspire further economic development and tourism for Washington County and western Maryland.

MSA is currently finalizing the Memorandums of Understanding for land acquisition and the Request for Proposals for the Design-Build of the facility anticipated for advertisement in fall 2021. 

Upon MSA’s completion of the design and subsequent construction process, the facility will be owned and operated by the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF).

Next up: a name-the-team contest.

The Hagerstown Suns (Low A; Sally League) was a longtime MiLB franchise playing out of Municipal Stadium, but the team was not asked to be part of MLB’s reorganization of the minor leagues for the 2021 season.

A Staten Island team is set to debut in the Atlantic League in 2022. Other 2022 potential additions have been placed on hold for the time being.

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