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Most asked say renovate old stadium

September 02, 2000

Most asked say renovate old stadium



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


A majority of people questioned in an informal survey by The Herald-Mail on Saturday prefer Hagerstown's existing minor league baseball stadium over building a new stadium complex.

Ten of the 22 people surveyed said they believe Municipal Stadium on Memorial Boulevard, which has served the area since 1931, should be renovated, mostly because of its local historical significance.

Five think a new stadium would draw more patrons to ball games, four said they didn't know which way the county should go and three said nothing should be done because of costs involved and because there are more pressing priorities, especially the debt for the sewer system.

"The park has been there for a long time," said Eugene Szumetz, 62, of Hagerstown. "They should fix it up. It has a lot of history in this town.

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"There's also a difference in the cost between renovation and building new," he said. "The way I see it, attendance is down anyway since the Orioles (minor league affiliate) left. They aren't making that much money now."

Don Corderman, 58, of Smithsburg, said if the county built a new stadium it would never be a financial success.

"I really question if we have the money for a new stadium. We owe $54 million on the sewer system," he said.

Corderman said the question of a new stadium should be voted by referendum. He said he would vote no.

"Build new," said Warren Keyfauver, 45, of Hagerstown.

He said there is nothing to do in the evenings in Washington County.

"It's a good project. They need to keep the ball team here, and they should build the stadium along the interstate like they did in Frederick and Baltimore," Keyfauver said.

Annette Plitman agrees.

"I grew up here," said Plitman, 29, who now lives in Olney, Md. "They should have fixed it up years ago.

"We have a new stadium in Bowie. It's always packed and parking is only a five-minute walk to the ticket booth. They need that here in Hagerstown."

Jeff Mussolino said he sees pluses to both plans.

"There's a lot of history in the old stadium. A lot of good players have come through there," he said. "A new stadium would be more visible. Anytime there's something new it draws people."

Ronald Hines of Maugansville said the county lacks the funds to renovate or build new.

"They can't pack the house they have now, so I don't know why they think they can make money with a new stadium," he said. "We've got a lot of problems here. We can't spend money on things we don't need."

Hines said the County Commissioners are making a lot of people angry over the stadium issue, especially since the county is $53 million in debt on its sewer system.

Doug Turner's issue is saving open land. He'd like to see the old stadium renovated instead of building a new one.

"There's no proof that it has to be built," said Turner, 45, of Hagerstown.

Turner has an ally in Robert Mothershed, 42, of Maugansville. He, too, thinks it's better to renovate the old stadium than use up undeveloped land for a new one.

"It would be OK if they kept it in town, but everyone wants to build it out of town. I moved here because I wanted a quieter place to live, and I bought an older house," he said.

Russell Neff, 45, lives in Hagerstown. He is "totally in favor of building a new stadium" as long as the state pays for it.

"It's only $11 million. That's just a drop in the bucket," he said. "They found money for the Orioles and the Ravens in Baltimore, and the Ravens only play 10 home games a year."

The future of any stadium, new or renovated, depends mostly on the County's financial situation, said Jack Pike, 68 of Maugansville.

"I don't know what to say. There's the water and sewer bill, they're subsidizing the ice skating rink, and Community Rescue needs money," he said.

Dave King, 48, of Hagerstown, thinks the best way to go is renovation.

"It's still a good stadium," he said. "They don't need a new one because there's nothing wrong with the old one."

Andrea Shiflet, 36, of Boonsboro said she doesn't know which way the county should go. Her main concern is what would happen to the stadium on Memorial Boulevard if a new one is built to replace it.

"It won't be good for Hagerstown just to let it sit there. They'd have to put something else there," she said.

Levena Henson, 73, of Hagerstown, knows exactly what should be done.

"Build a new stadium," she said. "All the other clubs have modern new stadiums. This one has been there for a long time. It's time for a new one."

Carol Glazer, 32, of Maugansville, also thinks it would be nice to have a new stadium.

"It might draw more people," she said.

She also doesn't care how county officials hammer things out.

"I don't get into all the money issues and stuff," Glazer said.

"I'd be for renovation," said Marc Sharrar, 28, of Hagerstown. "I didn't see much of a crowd at the games I've been to, but the facility is centrally located."

He said while parking at the stadium needs improvement, it's still better to "utilize what you have."

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