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County says stadium site must be found

March 23, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Four of the five Washington County Commissioners said Wednesday that stadium supporters must choose a preferred site and present a financial analysis before they will commit to funding stadium studies.

The fifth commissioner, Bill Wivell, said he did not have to see an analysis to know he will vote against taxpayer funding of a baseball stadium.

"We just need more detailed information other than that they want to build a stadium," Commissioners President Greg Snook said. "We want an overall financial plan, including where it (stadium) is going to be at," he said.

Commissioners Bert Iseminger, John Schnebly and Paul Swartz agreed.

"Hopefully they can get us that info in three weeks," Snook said.

If so, the county will vote on whether to contribute $190,000 toward the cost of a study the Maryland Stadium Authority would conduct before hotel tax revenues could be used to construct a stadium.

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Hagerstown Councilman Al Boyer, who is on the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce stadium task force, said the group hopes to get that information to the county by the April 7 deadline set by Winston Blenckstone, owner of the Hagerstown Suns. The baseball team would be the stadium's main tenant.

Last week Blenckstone said he would try to sell the team if the city, county and state governments don't approve a stadium funding plan by April 7. He isn't requiring site selection by his deadline.

The city wants Kim McCalla, the Maryland Stadium Authority project director, to meet with the commissioners to answer their questions. The earliest she could do so is April 25, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

The task force can get information from her before that meeting, Boyer said.

Swartz said the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce stadium task force has been looking at three possible sites for the proposed $12 million to $15 million Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex and need to pick one by the April 7 deadline.

One site is along the north side of Wesel Boulevard near Burhans Boulevard, he said. The other two sites are off Interstate 81 and Interstate 70, Swartz said.

At the request of the Hagerstown City Council, Swartz made a motion Tuesday night to contribute $190,000 to pay for the study but his motion wasn't seconded.

A bill before the Maryland General Assembly would require the study, which would include a preliminary plan, an estimated cost, an economic impact review, a financial plan and a reuse or redevelopment plan for Municipal Stadium.

Boyer said the study could cost $350,000 to $400,000. The city, which has spent approximately $70,000 on the project, would contribute $120,000 from savings in the current budget.

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