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Stadium site pondered

September 25, 2000

Stadium site pondered



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


Some stadium task force members are leaning toward recommending a new Hagerstown baseball stadium be built at the site of the existing Municipal Stadium, Task Force Chairman Richard Phoebus said Monday.

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"We're not planning to do a renovation. We're talking about a largely new facility on the existing site," Phoebus said after reviewing plans and cost estimates with a small group of task force members and city staff.

The relatively new pavilion and one-story office building would be kept, but the grandstand would be "knocked down."

"We would be building a new seating bowl," Phoebus said.

The other two sites under consideration are property along Wesel Boulevard near the intersection with Burhans Boulevard, and land behind the Centre at Hagerstown near the U.S. 40 and Interstate 81 interchange.

Phoebus said a decision on what site will be recommended to the Washington County Commissioners and the Hagerstown City Council will be made Friday during a meeting of the full task force. Phoebus said the meeting, like Monday's, will be closed to the public.

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He anticipated the task force's decision would not be made public until a meeting with the commissioners and the council on Oct. 17.

The stadium task force, a subcommittee of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, has about 15 members. About three of those members were at the three-hour Monday meeting.

The Wesel Boulevard and Centre sites are "not out of the picture, but they may be, based on cost," he said.

Phoebus would not say what the current cost estimates are for any of the three sites under consideration, but he said initial estimates were high.

He said building at Municipal Stadium was estimated to be "millions" less than at the other sites.

The target budget for the stadium project at any site is still $15 million, he said. That was the figure given in May when Phoebus presented the latest version of the Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex, a combination baseball park and railroad museum.

Within weeks of hearing the $15 million stadium plan, city and county elected officials endorsed plans to contribute as much as $3 million each for the project. Borrowing that money could cost the city and county as much as $5 million each over 20 years.

When asked if he could live with the plan worked out Monday, Hagerstown Suns owner Winston Blenckstone, who attended the meeting, said "We're very interested in working something out."

Phoebus said Blenckstone appeared "interested in staying in this town. ... He wants to keep his team here."

The Suns, a Class A affiliate of the San Fransisco Giants, would be the primary tenant of the stadium.

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