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Suns owner mulls stadium plan

April 12, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Suns owner Andrew Rayburn said Thursday he hopes to announce a proposed funding plan and site for a new baseball stadium this summer.

Rayburn said he would like to be able to break ground on a new stadium in spring 2003.

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said a spring 2003 ground breaking "is probably a little optimistic."

"Just getting a well thought out plan in place and everyone on board will take time," Breichner said.

If Rayburn's plan calls for some state funding, then even if that money is approved it probably wouldn't be available until June or July of next year, Breichner said.

"The earliest anything could start in '03 is probably July or August," Breichner said.

Rayburn said his stadium funding plan will call for money from the state, city, Washington County government and private sources. The private funding would come from Rayburn and possibly others, he said.

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Exactly how much Rayburn hopes will come from each source is "up in the air," he said.

Several potential sites for a new stadium are being considered, he said.

Those sites include those discussed during previous pushes for a new baseball stadium - the Suns' current home field, Municipal Stadium, which is owned by the city; property off Interstate 81 near Salem Avenue; land near the Centre at Hagerstown shopping center, and land off Wesel Boulevard near Burhans Boulevard - plus a "couple of other sites," which Rayburn said he has not visited yet, and so could not identify.

Eventually Hagerstown will need a new stadium to keep baseball in the city for years to come, Rayburn said.

Past efforts to secure government funding for a new stadium have been unsuccessful.

For now, Rayburn expects the Suns to stay in Hagerstown.

"We are not involved in any discussions with any other (cities) at this time," Rayburn said when asked if the Suns could move.

Rayburn said it is "very, very likely" the Suns will play next season at Municipal Stadium.

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

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