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Editorial - Suns need a miracle

February 16, 1998

Unless there's a change of heart by the Washington County government, or a private donor steps forward with several million dollars, the proposal to build a new stadium for the Hagerstown Suns seems dead in the water. County Commissioner Ron Bowers' proposal to put a business park and a stadium on the same site has merit, but not enough to overcome his colleagues' lack of support. Like a lot of other things, including Allegheny Power's $1 million pledge for the right to name the stadium, Bowers' plan may have come too late to save this project.

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening's spokesman Ray Feldmann was pretty blunt last week about the fact that it would take county support to get the stadium built. It would be "highly unlikely," Feldmann said, that the state would commit any resources unless the city and county come into the project as "equal partners."

Even if the city increases its share, the Democratic governor won't be able to ignore these facts: Washington County is governed by a board that is 4-1 Republican and supported his opponent, Ellen Sauerbrey, in the last election. Nor can he forget that some members of the county's General Assembly were outspoken in their opposition to state participation in a project to build a new stadium for The Baltimore Ravens.

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Unless the commissioners buy into this project, the governor might reasonably fear that they'll carp at it from the sidelines, using the same argument that Commissioner Jim Wade did in his op-ed piece this past Sunday - If stadium money is so easy to come by, why is it so tough to get a little state aid to renovate some of our aging schools?

Bowers' plan would have shielded the commissioners from the political fallout involved in supporting the stadium project by linking it to a program to bring new jobs here. All it lacked was enough time to sell the commissioners and the community on its merits. Suns' owner Winston Blenckstone, who has worked hard to provide a good product for the local area, will need a miracle, or a miraculous change of heart by the commissioners, to pull out a win this time.

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