Stadium depends on local funding

March 01, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - The local legislative delegation threw the fate of Hagerstown minor league baseball back to City of Hagerstown and Washington County elected officials Wednesday.

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The Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex could be in jeopardy unless the city and county agree on the local share of money.

Supporters of the $12 million to $15 million Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex hope to resolve the problem in time to ask Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening for money this session, which ends April 10.

The Washington County legislative delegation voted Wednesday to raise the hotel-motel tax and give the county money for economic development and tourism.


A previous plan would have given money directly to Hagerstown, which planned to use it for a stadium.

"This gives you all a much greater role in determining the vision for Washington County," Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, told the County Commissioners.

Two commissioners said the city's share of construction should equal the county's share.

The city has agreed to spend no more on a new stadium than it now spends on Municipal Stadium, which is about $120,000 a year.

An estimated $300,000 from a hotel-motel tax increase could provide the county's share.

"We were really the caboose to this train. Not the engine," said Commissioner John L. Schnebly.

Richard Phoebus, who chairs the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce stadium task force, argued that Hagerstown is putting up an equal share because it is taking on the risk of borrowing between $3 million and $5 million.

If necessary, the private sector would be willing to make up the difference in the city's share, Phoebus said.

"We'll accept the challenge, $7 million, and if we can't do it there's no stadium," Phoebus said.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II called the development "a "major bump in the road."

The delegation is also requiring the Maryland Stadium Authority to develop preliminary plans for a new stadium, including cost, economic development impact and reuse of the city's current stadium.

"The whole project is at loose ends. I'm really concerned about this project going belly up," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

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