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New stadium news delayed

April 13, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

An announcement of an overall funding plan and a site for a proposed baseball stadium won't be made today, as some stadium supporters had hoped.

Instead, Hagerstown and Washington County elected officials could decide at a joint meeting April 25 how much each government will contribute toward pre-construction plans, City Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said Thursday.

Richard Phoebus, chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce stadium task force, said no announcement will be made today but he hoped new details about the stadium plan, including a preferred site, would be released before the end of the month.

Boyer would not speculate on when an overall funding plan would be finalized.

The task force is leading the push for a proposed $12 million to $15 million Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex, a combination baseball stadium and railroad museum. The Hagerstown Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, would be the primary tenant of a new stadium. The Suns currently play at Municipal Stadium.

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Phoebus said the next step is for the city and county governments to determine how to pay for pre-construction plans and design drawings. Phoebus said the plans could cost $250,000 to $500,000, and will probably cost about $300,000.

Boyer, a member and past co-chairman of the chamber's stadium task force, said he is hopeful that when the commissioners and council members meet on April 25 they will agree on how to pay for the plans.

There is $120,000 in Hagerstown's proposed budget to pay for the plans, and Boyer said that could be enough from the city.

Boyer said it is his hope that the County Commissioners agree to contribute $120,000, with the difference made up by private contributions.

Phoebus said private donations have been made to help pay for the pre-construction plans, which would include engineering drawings and a site analysis.

Phoebus would not say who made the contributions or how much was donated. He said the private donations could pay for 15-20 percent of the cost of the plans.

The County Commissioners do not have money for stadium plans in their current or proposed budget. But the commissioners have yet to decide how to spend some of the proceeds from a recently approved hotel tax increase. They are expected to have about $300,000 a year from the tax to put toward economic development projects such as a new stadium.

Phoebus again declined to identify all the sites being considered for a stadium, but said the group is involved in negotiations for one site.

Potential sites include land along Interstates 70 and 81 and along Wesel Boulevard near the intersection with Burhans Boulevard.

Last week, Phoebus said an area along I-81 likely will be the preferred site. The property will either be in Hagerstown or next to the city line and able to be annexed, he said.

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