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City likely to allow Suns to host additional events at stadium

Team wants to host more concerts and nonbaseball events at the stadium starting this season

March 16, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council will likely give the Hagerstown Suns permission to host additional events at Municipal Stadium.

The council will vote on March 22 on introducing an amendment to exempt concerts at the stadium from the city's noise ordinance.

It also will vote on a resolution to amend its lease with the minor league baseball club to lessen the bureaucratic red tape necessary for approving nonbaseball events.

The Suns want to host more concerts and nonbaseball events at the stadium starting this season, General Manager Bill Farley said.

City Attorney Mark Boyer said Tuesday that under current city code some of the events proposed by the Suns would violate city noise regulations.

Sounds that can be heard from more 50 feet away technically violate the noise ordinance, unless exempted, Boyer said.

The Suns have proposed hosting three battle-of-the-bands events at the stadium on Saturdays when games are not scheduled, he said.

They also hope to host a concert series on Thursdays when games are not scheduled, he said.

Although the city has allowed some exemptions to the noise ordinance in the past, as it stands now, it would still apply to concerts hosted by private entities, he said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the ordinance was drafted to deter people from blasting car stereos as they drove through town. He said it regulates sound from a single source.

Metzner said the ordinance seems to serve its original purpose, and he was not against the exemption sought by the Suns.

Boyer said enforcement of the ordinance often comes down to police discretion, and, in his opinion, police have used their discretion appropriately.

Councilman Forrest W. Easton said the requested exemption requested is fair because events like football and Little League games probably already violate this ordinance as written.

Councilman Martin Brubaker said he wanted the Suns to have the opportunity to support themselves.

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood encouraged Farley to reach out to neighbors and give them the chance to engage in discussions surrounding these proposed events.

In the past, there was negative feedback from residents and the council about fireworks at the stadium, Metzner said.

To protect neighbors, Boyer said the lease includes a provision to prevent the Suns from hosting a concert and fireworks on back-to-back nights.

In addition to introducing the changes to the code, the city will vote on a resolution to amend its lease with the Suns.  

As written, the Suns lease requires council approval for events other than professional baseball games, according to city documents.

Boyer said city officials were asking the council to amend the lease to allow the Suns to host other baseball events without additional approval from the city.

They are also asking that the lease allow city staff to approve nonbaseball events that comply with the noise ordinance, do not involve alcohol and do not use city services and to require the Suns to obtain council approval for any events that involve alcohol, require exemption from the noise ordinance or use city services.

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