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Hagerstown City Council to spend up to $20,000 on stadium study

February 21, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

Following the Washington County Board of Commissioners, the Hagerstown City Council Tuesday took another step toward determining if the city could continue to support a  minor league baseball team.

The five-member council unanimously approved a motion to contribute up to $20,000 toward a stadium study during a special voting session at City Hall.

The study will be compiled by the Ripken Group, a Baltimore-based consulting firm, focusing on the economic feasibility of a new or renovated stadium in the city and what it would offer, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

The study will determine the economic impact of having a team in Hagerstown, including what the city can expect on a yearly basis in  job creation and retention, as well as the amount of revenue it will generate for the city and county, Bruchey said.

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Hagerstown Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn has been considering  moving the team to Winchester, Va., after receiving a letter from Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals, the Suns’ affiliate, concerning much-needed facility improvements to aging Municipal Stadium, according to previous reports.

The county commissioners approved the same motion in support of the study on Feb. 14. Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham was in attendance Tuesday to show support for the city in approving its own resolution.

Bruchey said the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation, Inc., also known as CHIEF, will oversee the study and  speak with Ripken Group officials immediately to make sure all needed information is addressed within the report.

City council members spoke briefly before voting on the motion, hoping that the study remains objective and focuses strictly on the economic feasibility of continuing to host a team locally.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he hopes the study reflects the “realism of whether we can support Class A or Double-A baseball” without a “predisposed inclusion that baseball should be here.”

“I think it’s very important for all of us that we understand that we’re looking for an objective study to make sure this area is sustainable to what we’d like to see happen,” he said.

Councilman Martin E. Brubaker echoed the same concerns that the study should be “not something that’s predisposed one way or the other.”

Bruchey ensured that it would be objective, saying data received by the Ripken Group would be “real numbers by an independent group.”

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood said she hopes to see data in the report pertaining to the idea of making any new stadium or renovations to include a provision for a multiuse facility.

Although it’s typically a 60-day process, Bruchey said CHIEF officials have informed him that the study could be completed by the end of March.

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