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City stadium plans in peril

November 24, 2000

City stadium plans in peril



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


Washington County's senior member of the Annapolis delegation says legislators won't save the Hagerstown baseball stadium project if plans are "unrealistic," as a key supporter of the plan said earlier this week.

"I've always maintained that it is a local city-county decision," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

City Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said in a press release Wednesday that a proposal to build a new baseball facility at the site of Hagerstown Municipal Stadium is "unrealistic."

Boyer, the city's representative on the stadium task force, said it was too early to say whether the city would still ask the delegation's help in getting state funding for the project.

Asked Friday if the announcement that the present plan appears unworkable means the state delegation won't get involved, Munson said, "The city and county made their decision and it's the decision."

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Boyer was not available for comment Friday.

When asked Wednesday about chances of getting a new stadium in the foreseeable future or keeping minor league baseball in Hagerstown, Boyer said, "It doesn't look good."

Hagerstown Suns owner Winston Blenckstone and his son, team manager David Blenckstone, did not return phone calls Thursday or Friday.

The task force will not consider other sites, said Boyer and Task Force Chairman Richard Phoebus.

Phoebus said Wednesday that the projected cost of a new stadium has increased from $15 million to $18 million, primarily because County Commissioners Bert L. Iseminger and John L. Schnebly made their support contingent on the purchase of land occupied by the Hagerstown Spring Works and Fitness Priority, which is adjacent to the stadium.

Their support was critical because Commissioner Paul L. Swartz was the only commissioner openly promising continued support of a request for $3 million from the county government. The city was also asked to continue pledging $3 million for the project under the present plan.

On Wednesday Schnebly said he will announce on Monday that he can't support the project and thinks the $3 million could be better spent on other projects.

Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger was unavailable for comment.

Swartz, the most vocal stadium supporter among the commissioners, was not pleased with the news.

"It's disappointing, with all the work that has been done," he said. "I think they should look at Vincent Groh's property."

Groh owns property on the northwest edge of Hagerstown between Marshall Street and Salem Avenue. That property is owned by a trust for brothers Vincent and Charles Groh.

The trust would give up, free of charge, property it owns on Marshall Street in exchange for the present stadium site, Vincent Groh said Wednesday.

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

Staff Writer Dan Kulin contributed to this story.

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