Allegheny Energy offers to help fund, name stadium

February 11, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Allegheny Energy offers to help fund, name stadium

Allegheny Energy has agreed to donate $1 million toward construction of a new minor league baseball stadium, and in return the stadium would be called Allegheny Energy Field, the owner of the Hagerstown Suns said Tuesday.

Under an agreement in principle, the electric utility would have naming rights to a new stadium for 12 years, said Suns owner Winston Blenckstone.

Whether there will be a new stadium, even with the donation, remained uncertain.

Local government officials had asked Blenckstone to raise private funding toward the stadium project, which could cost $10 million, including site acquisition, roads and utilities.


"We're very excited about the naming rights participation with the private sector funding," Blenckstone said. "Getting $1 million on the naming rights is a wonderful gift."

Allegheny Power spokeswoman Midge Teahan said company officials had no comment. A 10 a.m. press conference to announce the donation is to be held today at the Four Points Hotel.

City Council members were to be briefed on the deal's details during a closed session on Tuesday night.

The council could vote on whether to accept the plan on Tuesday, Feb. 24, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

The council's approval would be sought because the new stadium would be owned by the city, Zimmerman said.

The city owns Municipal Stadium, the current home of the Suns.

The council granted Blenckstone permission on Jan. 20 to pursue naming rights for a new stadium. Under naming rights, corporations typically donate money in exchange for the right to select the name of a sporting facility.

Blenckstone said Allegheny Energy's action could encourage other companies to help fund a new stadium.

The Suns have put together a plan for a $10 million stadium that includes $4.4 million in state funds, $2.5 million from the city of Hagerstown and $1.8 million from the county. Private contributions include Allegheny Power's $1 million and $300,000 from Blenckstone.

But on Tuesday the Washington County Commissioners voted 3-2 not to provide funding for the stadium.

"It sounds like very good news and not so good news. I'm extremely pleased to hear about Allegheny Power. I was not extremely pleased about the County Commissioners," said Councilman Lewis C. Metzner.

Councilman William M. Breichner said Allegheny Energy's contribution is encouraging, despite the county's decision.

"That's getting it closer," Breichner said.

According to a Hagerstown Suns document obtained by The Herald-Mail, the deal is contingent upon a National Association of Professional Baseball League affiliated club playing in the stadium.

The deal with Allegheny Power would include:

- The name Allegheny Energy Field on the stadium's exterior, the scoreboard, the tickets and the program scoring page.

- Status as the Suns' official energy supplier.

- Right to use the Suns logo in Allegheny Energy ads.

- Eight box seats per game.

- Two employee nights per year with 1,000 tickets for each.

- Fireworks night on one of the employee nights.

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