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Suns' fare may be worth the wait

April 15, 2002|BY MARK KELLER

I can tell by the lines that a lot of folks from the area have been to Ryan's, the new restaurant in the Hagerstown Commons shopping center.

Ryan's has been open for a couple of months now and the lines are beginning to thin out a bit, but the restaurant is still doing great business. I would also venture to say that many of its customers have left there thinking they will probably go back and try it again - just maybe a little later when there are even fewer people in line.

This is how it works with restaurants and retail stores. Every time a new one opens, the place is overrun with people wanting to see how it compares to the one that opened a month earlier.

Anyone who was at the Valley Mall the day Sears opened knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Another local business re-opened its doors last week, but many people didn't seem to notice. The Hagerstown Suns came to town on Monday, starting its first full season under new ownership.

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Maybe they should have hung "Under New Management" banners around the outside of Municipal Stadium to let people know this was the start of a new era.

The difference this year is the enthusiasm. Suns general manager Kurt Landes has a crew that is excited about the possibilities of a long-standing relationship with the city of Hagerstown, but he knows his biggest task is to put people's butts in the bleachers.

The attitude is refreshing. There has been very little mention of the 'S'-word (you all know what that is).

They're not living by the idea, "If you build it, they will come."

They're just thinking, "What do we need to do to get them to come?"

So without getting into whether or not the city needs a new stadium, or whether or not you personally care if the Suns stay or go ... I'd like to issue the citizens of Hagerstown a challenge.

You've tried Ryan's. You've tried Pizzeria Uno. You've shopped at Sears and Target and Borders. How about trying out the new Suns?

So many have burned out on the constant talk surrounding a new stadium in the past that they don't want anything to do with the team.

But aren't you a little more willing to take a chance on a restaurant that you didn't like before if there are new people running it? That's the situation here.

Whether you loved them or hated them in the past, go out to a game make a judgment on your experience this time around.

Chances are you'll spend less than you would for dinner at most of the new restaurants in town. Heck, check out a game on "Thirsty Thursday" and have a couple beers for a buck a pop.

And watch the game, too. In the first week of the season, the Suns have shown a penchantfor putting together some big innings. You're liable to see a game with 10 or 12 runs scored.

The fact is you may hate it. Minor league baseball just may not be for you - and that's acceptable. But far too many people in the community have made decisions about the Suns and what they feel their fate should be without really giving them a chance.

Go to the game first, then make a judgment. You might be surprised at what you see, and you may even want to go back ... even if there is a line.

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column runs every Sunday. He can be reached at keller@herald-mail.com or 301-733-5131 ext. 2332.

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