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Suns owner wants renovation details

August 17, 2000

Suns owner wants renovation details



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


Hagerstown Suns owner Winston Blenckstone won't sign off on a plan to renovate Municipal Stadium instead of building a new sports complex until he has more details, stadium task force Chairman Richard Phoebus said Thursday.

Because the Suns would be the major tenant at either a renovated or a new stadium, Blenckstone's approval of a renovation plan is necessary, Phoebus said.

Phoebus confirmed the stadium task force is considering undertaking a major renovation of Municipal Stadium, but said there are no estimates of the cost of such an undertaking.

"We are looking at it. It is exploratory," he said. "We are trying to cover all the bases."

Blenckstone could not be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday. He has said he would sell the team if a new stadium were not built or if the matter goes to referendum.

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Blenckstone knows the task force is considering a renovation plan, but wants to see specifics, Phoebus said.

The task force is considering renovating the existing stadium because of concerns about the cost, especially for grading, of two sites being considered for a new sports complex, Phoebus said.

That doesn't mean task force members have given up on the idea of building a sports complex, Phoebus said.

Sites being considered are behind the Centre at Hagerstown near the U.S. 40 and Interstate 81 interchange and property along Wesel Boulevard near the intersection with Burhans Boulevard, he said.

It is too soon to estimate how money could be saved by renovating Municipal Stadium instead of building a new facility, he said.

It has not been determined whether the railroad museum, now at 300 S. Burhans Blvd., would be moved to the stadium if the renovation option were selected, Phoebus said.

Preliminary design work begun for a new stadium won't be needed if the task force goes with a renovation, Phoebus said. It would be better to find that out early before spending much more money, he said.

The Maryland Stadium Authority is overseeing preliminary engineering and design work by HOK Sport in Kansas City, Mo., Barton Malow in Baltimore and Davis, Renn & Associates Inc. of Hagerstown.

The work is being paid for with $120,000 in city funds, $190,000 from the county and $35,000 in private contributions, including $30,000 from Blenckstone.

A "stadium summit" was scheduled for Aug. 25 but Wednesday it was postponed until at least October, Hagerstown City Councilman Al Boyer said.

Hagerstown City Councilman J. Wallace McClure, who requested the summit so he could lay out conditions for a proposed $15 million stadium and railroad museum complex, said Wednesday he interpreted the delay and an accompanying news release as meaning the task force was considering a renovation.

McClure, who said he has pushed consistently for renovation instead of construction, said he doesn't mind waiting for a renovation plan to be developed.

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