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Stadium site flooding, parking woes addressed

October 04, 2000

Stadium site flooding, parking woes addressed



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


Two of the bigger problems with Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium, persistent flooding and a shortage of parking, would be addressed by plans to reuse the site for a new baseball stadium, Richard Phoebus, chairman of the local Chamber of Commerce stadium task force, said Wednesday.

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Redirecting some of the stormwater currently channeled through two runs that merge at the stadium and periodically overflow, accounts for $1.5 million of the total $15 million projected cost of the project, Phoebus said.

To fix the problem, one of the runs would be redirected along Cannon Avenue, which is behind the left field wall, and then into Antietam Creek, he said. Currently, the run goes behind the third-base-side bleachers, merges with another run and flows into the creek.

The tennis courts and basketball court next to the stadium would be turned into 60 to 80 parking spaces. Some property around the former city power plant across the street from the stadium also could be used for overflow parking, Phoebus said.

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Phoebus spoke at a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce breakfast held at the Plaza Hotel in Halfway. About 30 people attended.

During the session, Phoebus said cost was the primary reason why the task force chose to recommend demolishing parts of the existing stadium and rebuilding instead of building a stadium at a new site.

He said it is estimated that building a new facility at sites along Wesel Boulevard or behind the new Centre at Hagerstown would cost $8 million to $10 million more than new construction at Municipal Stadium, which is off Memorial Boulevard in Hagerstown.

Phoebus responded to questions, including:

- Has there had been any thought to purchasing the adjacent Hagerstown Spring Works property?

Phoebus said it would be nice to have that property, which could be used for additional parking space, but said there have been no talks with the property owner at this point.

- Under a best case scenario, when could the stadium project be completed?

Possibly, opening day 2002, he said.

- How much private money has been raised?

Phoebus said about $40,000 has been collected so far, and another $25,000 is available. He said fund-raising at this point is difficult because the project has to clear many political hurdles, including the threat of a referendum.

Phoebus estimated the project will need private sector contributions of between $3 million and $5 million.

Last week, the stadium task force endorsed the $15 million plan, under which the existing grandstand and ticket booth would be torn down. A picnic pavilion and clubhouse office building would remain intact and the playing field would remain where it is, under the plan.

Preliminary renderings of the project, which were on display during the Wednesday session, showed a new grandstand structure, two new concession stand buildings and a new administration building. Phoebus emphasized the drawings were preliminary.

Phoebus is scheduled to present the task force recommendation at a joint meeting of the Hagerstown and Washington County elected officials Oct. 17.

City, county, state and private money are expected to pay for the project.

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