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Salem Ave. stadium site deserves a second look

November 07, 2000

Salem Ave. stadium site deserves a second look



It's tough to blame the Washington County delegation for their reluctance to move full speed ahead on the latest proposal for a new stadium for the Hagerstown Suns. After considering two other sites, the stadium task force has returned to the original Municipal Stadium site that the Suns' ownership once declared was too difficult for patrons to fund.

We believe the task force should take another look at the October offer made by Vincent Groh to swap the [present stadium site for land on the northwest edge of Hagerstown between Marshall Street and Salem Avenue.

The site, which Groh said was appraised for between $8 million and $10 million in 1996, is visible from Interstate 81, one of the conditions for a previous offer of $1 million from Allegheny Power for naming rights. It's also the site proposed in 1999 for something called Home Run Business Park.

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The concept behind this proposal was that the ball park and a variety of business sites would share utilities, parking and other amenities. The idea was knocked down at the time because of an analysis which showed that once land on the parcel was reserved for the ball park, the agency running the business park would have to charge more than the market would bear for the business sites.

But that objection is removed if the city gets the land for free. As to the stadium task force's other reservations - about what Groh might do with the old stadium site and the objections of Marshall Street neighbors - the first can be dealt with through zoning, the second by convincing neighbors that a combination ball park/ business park would be less objectionable than say, a distribution center with lots of day-and-night truck traffic.

Too much time has been spent by too many people not to consider an offer that might give the stadium a better chance of success, not to mention providing a new cluster of business sites. Groh's site was studied extensively in 1999 and price was apparently the problem. Since that hurdle's been cleared, it's time for another look.

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