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County wants stadium update

August 30, 2000

County wants stadium update



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


The Washington County Commissioners are calling on a task force that has been spearheading efforts for a new baseball stadium to update them on how much money has been raised through private fund-raising efforts.

The commissioners said they also want to hear why the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce stadium task force is considering renovating Municipal Stadium instead of building a new sports complex.

"It's time for them to give us a status report," Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said.

Iseminger made that request during Tuesday's commissioners meeting.

Commissioner John L. Schnebly and Iseminger said they want the presentation to include information on fund-raising efforts. Schnebly noted the task force was told it had to raise $3 million by May 2001 for the $15 million project.

The County Commissioners said they would like to get the update at the next joint meeting of the Hagerstown City Council and the County Commissioners Sept. 17.

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Task Force Chairman Richard Phoebus did not return phone calls Wednesday.

Hagerstown Councilman Alfred W. Boyer, the city representative on the task force, said the panel does not have information it can release about project status because revised project cost estimates are not complete.

Information might be ready in time for the Sept. 17 meeting, Boyer said.

Meanwhile, Iseminger has replaced Commissioner Paul L. Swartz on the stadium task force. Swartz said he left the task force because his position and support of the project is clear and he thought it would be wise to have another commissioner sit on the task force.

Earlier this month, Phoebus and Boyer said the task force was considering refurbishing the stadium instead of building a new one.

Since the Hagerstown Suns would be the main tenant in either case, Suns owner Winston Blenckstone has veto power over the idea. Blenckstone has said he would need more information before deciding if he'd support it.

Swartz said he opposes the idea of a renovation because attendance would not increase unless the team started playing at a different site.

Iseminger said he needs to know more before saying if he would support a renovation.

The Washington County Commissioners in May agreed conditionally to contribute $190,000 in hotel-motel tax hike proceeds for a $350,000 study for the proposed $15 million stadium.

They also conditionally pledged to spend $250,000 a year for 20 years on construction of the stadium.

The current plan calls for the city and county to each pay $3 million for the stadium, which would be $5 million each when debt service costs are included.

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