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Revised stadium plan unveiled

June 21, 1999

Stadium planBy SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




A revised $10 million to $15 million plan for a new stadium for the Hagerstown Suns was made public Monday along with word that four sites are being considered, including land where the Hagerstown Roundhouse stood.

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Some historical Roundhouse Museum artifacts, such as box cars or locomotives, probably would be placed at any of the four sites, said Blaine Snyder, Railroad Museum board chairman, who attended the news conference.

It is unlikely the museum would move to the site chosen from its 300 S. Burhans Blvd. building, he said.

CSX Corp. owns about 40 acres along South Burhans Boulevard, where the last of more than 30 buildings was destroyed in early March.

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One idea is for the stadium to have a train theme, perhaps with a ticket booth fashioned like a train, Snyder said.

Drawings presented by architect Michael Gehr of Burrey Mosey Gehr Architects show the stadium could be used for soccer in the fall when the Suns are not playing.

Stadium supporters want the new facility to be open by April 1, 2001, in time for the Suns baseball season. The Suns currently play at Municipal Stadium along Memorial Boulevard.

The other three sites are off Interstate 81, two on Salem Avenue and one on U.S. 40 adjacent to the Centre at Hagerstown, said Dick Phoebus, stadium task force chairman.

While the railroad artifacts could be displayed at any of the four sites, a verbal commitment by the state to place a visitors center next to the stadium would not apply to the Hagerstown site, Phoebus said. Other vacant sites of at least 30 acres also would be considered, he said.

Previous stadium plans have listed costs ranging from $8 million to $11 million.

A planning committee, with the help of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, hopes to get a "significant amount of money" from private sources, Phoebus said. He would not be more specific on the amount wanted.

Fund-raising efforts will begin in the next few weeks, he said. The committee also will seek in-kind gifts, and will try to get businesses to pay for naming rights to areas of the stadium.

Allegheny Power offered $1 million to pay for stadium naming rights but it wants the site to be highly visible and in its service area, neither of which would be the case with the Roundhouse site.

If the Roundhouse site were chosen, Allegheny Power would need to reconsider whether it still wants to pay for the naming rights, said spokesman Guy Fletcher.

Raising money from businesses and individuals would demonstrate to local and state government leaders that the community supports the idea, Phoebus said.

Present and previous plans call for some funding to come from county and state sources but neither the Washington County Commissioners nor the Maryland General Assembly have committed money.

Phoebus said an idea of building a stadium business park for the Hagerstown Suns on a 68-acre parcel at I-81 and Salem Avenue were dropped after a feasibility study by the public-private Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc., known as CHIEF.

Merle Elliott, president of CHIEF, said on April 20 that the study showed it would be too expensive to build a park at that location. The Washington County Commissioners and Hagerstown's mayor had requested the study.

Stadium supporters have asked the Suns' owners to make a lease commitment of at least 10 years if plans for the stadium become reality, Phoebus said. Owner Winston Blenckstone has agreed to that idea, Phoebus said.

Blenckstone could not be reached for comment Monday.

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