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Hagerstown Council pulls vote on Municipal Stadium naming rights

Staff members to meet with Suns to try to find middle ground on the issue

Staff members to meet with Suns to try to find middle ground on the issue

November 17, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday removed a vote regarding a draft amendment to the Hagerstown Suns' lease agreement from its agenda for next week's regular session.

The amendment would grant the Suns the right to sell naming rights for Municipal Stadium.

Council members discussed the proposed amendment during last week's work session and raised the topic again this week.

The city would be approving the requested sponsor, City Attorney Mark Boyer said last week. The Hagerstown Suns would like information about the approved sponsor to be kept confidential, so they can announce it should a sponsor be acquired, Boyer said. Because of the open meetings act, it would be difficult to keep the sponsor confidential unless the sponsor wasn't approved by the council, Boyer said.

City Councilman William Breichner this week said he would not vote for the amendment.

Other council members also opposed the amendment as-is.

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"I'm not going to give carte blanche to a third party to change the name when I don't even know what it is," said Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, who was not at last week's meeting.

He would like to see what the city could get out of a naming-rights deal, Metzner said. He also asked about the possibility of the Suns selling naming rights to the field but not the stadium.

Under the current lease agreement, the Suns are responsible for maintaining the field while the city funds the stadium's operating costs and capital repairs.

In this fiscal year, the operating costs run about $119,000, city finance director Al Martin said. Costs, which are comprised mostly of labor, vary year to year depending on what works needs performed at the stadium.

The Hagerstown Suns do not have a corporate sponsor waiting to pay for naming rights to the stadium as part of a "premiere partnership," said Bob Flannery, Suns president and general manager.

However, the team would like to offer the opportunity to its potential sponsors as a way to boost revenues.

"We need to go out and find someone for this to keep this franchise viable in Hagerstown," Flannery told the council.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II pulled the vote on the proposed amendment from next week's agenda. He and staff members will meet with the Suns to try to find some middle ground on the issue before bringing it back to the council, Bruchey said.

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