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Stadium naming awaits study

June 29, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Hagerstown Suns and Allegheny Power officials said Monday they expect to extend a $1 million naming rights agreement for a new baseball stadium until a feasibility study is completed.

The agreement was to expire July 1, but officials said they plan to renew it for about another six months.

Under the agreement, Allegheny Power would pay $1 million for the rights to name a new baseball stadium Allegheny Energy Field.

The main site being considered for the $10 million stadium project is a lot off Interstate 81 with easy access.

Hagerstown and Washington County officials must decide whether to apply for a state grant to fund feasibility studies for a minor league baseball stadium and a convention center. The studies are expected to cost between $80,000 and $100,000.

Local officials have been told by a Maryland Stadium Authority official that the studies are necessary if local officials want state funding for the projects.

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City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said he will ask City Council members next Tuesday whether they want to apply for the grant and pursue the studies.

Several council members have said they are interested in both studies, but want to find out whether the Washington County Commissioners would co-sign the grant application.

The commissioners are expected to decide whether to participate in the grant application this morning, said County Administrator Rodney Shoop.

If city officials proceed with the studies, they will need to be done by December so officials can prepare for the Maryland General Assembly's next legislative session, which starts in January, Zimmerman said.

The studies could take three to four months, officials said.

Once Allegheny Power officials have reviewed the study, they will decide whether to extend the naming rights agreement, said Midge Teahan, company spokeswoman.

Suns owner Winston Blenckstone said the extension won't be official until he gets a letter from Allegheny Power.

There is no specific deadline on the extension since there's no set schedule for the stadium study, he said.

Blenckstone said he plans for the Suns to continue playing at city-owned Municipal Stadium through the 1999 season and hopes to have the team in a new stadium by the 2000 season.

Last year, 115,011 people attended the Suns' 66 home games. The Class A Toronto Blue Jays affiliate has drawn 48,624 people during its first 31 home games this season, Blenckstone said.

"It's on par, just about average with what it has been," he said.

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