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City, Suns' consultant try again for stadium

February 07, 2002

City, Suns' consultant try again for stadium



By DAN KULIN
dank@herald-mail.com


A Hagerstown Suns' consultant is meeting with top city administrators in his search for a way to pay for a new stadium and to discuss possible sites for a ballpark, Suns owner Andrew Rayburn said Wednesday.

Rayburn's consultant, Rick Horrow of Horrow Sports Ventures of Palm Beach, Fla., said he has been holding regular meetings with city officials, including City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman and City Finance Director Al Martin. They met in December and January, and will continue to meet monthly, Horrow said.

"There have been overall discussions of a new stadium. Some talk of a site and a lot of talk about financing," Rayburn said.

Horrow said "site, location, funding and design" have been discussed.

"But it's premature to delve into the details right now ... We're in a period of low-key fact-finding," he said.

Rayburn said he hopes to have a proposed funding plan and site selected by the end of March.

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As was the case with previous stadium plans, which were ultimately dropped after the projected cost topped $15 million, Rayburn said a new funding plan will count on money from the city, state and Washington County governments, as well as some money from the team.

"The total cost will be in the many millions. But it's too early to say how that will fall out," Rayburn said.

He said he did not have a cost estimate for a new stadium.

He said he does not know how much money would be requested from taxpayers, or how much he would propose contributing to the project.

The sites being considered include the sites that had been checked out previously: Property at the Suns' current home field, Municipal Stadium, which is owned by the city; property off Interstate 81 near Salem Avenue; property near the Centre at Hagerstown shopping center, and land off Wesel Boulevard near Burhans Boulevard.

Rayburn said he wasn't looking into the possibility of moving the team to another city, "yet."

"The next two months is very important. We'll assess that at the end of March," he said.

Four City Council members said Wednesday they were unaware of the meetings with city staff.

"If there are things happening in the city for a new stadium I wish someone would make me aware of it," said Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire, who opposes city funding for a new ballpark.

Zimmerman said he has met with Horrow twice.

"He has been meeting with city staff to get background on prior (stadium) plans. ... We have not offered any proposals for funding or indicated that the mayor and council would be willing to fund a stadium," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said the talks have been similar to discussions with other businesses.

"As soon as we learn where they're heading with a proposal or request we'd go to the mayor and council. I think the mayor and council would expect us to at least provide information," he said.

Mayor William M. Breichner said Suns' officials stopped by City Hall in December, but he was not in that meeting.

Breichner said the Suns are wise to meet with city staff before going before the council.

"They'd be ... fools to come in here without staff having looked at (their proposals)," he said.

"Still, it ultimately has to go before the City Council for support," Breichner said.

The Suns are a Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

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