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Groh pitches stadium option

October 18, 2000

Groh pitches stadium option



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


Hagerstown property owner Vincent Groh has an alternative idea for a new stadium: Give him the Hagerstown Municipal Stadium property and build a new stadium at the northwest edge of Hagerstown between Marshall Street and Salem Avenue.

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That property is owned by a trust for brothers Vincent and Charles Groh. The trust would give up, free of charge, property it owns at Marshall Street in exchange for the present stadium site, Vincent Groh said Wednesday.

But he thinks his offer comes too late, since the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce stadium task force has proposed building a new stadium at the present site for an estimated $15 million.

The task force officially told the Hagerstown City Council and the Washington County Commissioners about that proposal during a joint meeting Tuesday and asked for their support.

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Groh said he has no idea what the present cost estimate would be for the Marshall Street site but it was estimated at $8 million to $10 million in 1996.

Groh said in recent days he has told Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and others about his offer, which has been around in various versions for several years.

Bruchey would not comment on the Groh offer except to say that the site recommended by the task force is a good one.

Groh doesn't think Hagerstown officials want him to have the stadium property because they don't know what he'd do with it, he said.

In fact, he said he is not sure what he'd do with the stadium property. It would depend on what the market would bear, he said.

Richard Phoebus of the stadium task force confirmed Wednesday that Groh's use of the property would be an issue of concern.

He has said a factor in the task force's support of the present site was that a state bill providing money for the stadium required a new stadium plan take into consideration the future use of Municipal Stadium.

Groh's offer would not so easily meet that requirement, Phoebus said.

Phoebus said he has not heard the details of Groh's proposal. So as far as he's concerned there is only one stadium site offer on the table, he said.

Phoebus expressed concern that looking at other sites at this point could cause further delays, making it more difficult to obtain state funding for the project.

Groh said his site is preferable to the present one because it has Interstate 81 access and visibility, which the present location does not.

At Tuesday's meeting, Phoebus said the Marshall Street site was problematic because residents who live near it are believed to be against having a new stadium in their neighborhood.

"It just didn't seem practical to fight with a whole new neighborhood," Phoebus said. He predicted neighbors would raise a "holy ruckus" against a stadium, he said.

Washington County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz said he could support putting the stadium on Groh's property as long as Groh indicated ahead of time what he would put at the present stadium property.

While he also supports the task force recommendation, he has always preferred putting the stadium closer to an interstate, Swartz said.

There was an unsuccessful push for Groh to donate land for the stadium behind the Centre at Hagerstown, Swartz said.

That was Swartz's preferred site, but Phoebus said building a stadium at that site would cost more than $22 million.

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