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Hagerstown to take lead on stadium project

County, state and private-sector support will be critical

March 06, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Commissioner William B. McKinley, left, listens to Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner on Tuesday at a joint meeting of the two governmental bodies.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Hagerstown and Washington County officials have agreed on a leadership structure for a potential project to build a multiuse stadium at the intersection of Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue in Hagerstown.

Should the project move forward, the city will take the lead, but county, state and private-sector support will be critical, city and county officials agreed during a joint session Tuesday.

The session marked the first time the city and county had discussed a stadium together in open session since the latest push for a new stadium began.

Their discussion centered around a two-page memorandum from City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman describing the goals of the project and a proposed leadership structure.

His memo also singled out the intersection of Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue as the site for the project.

“We would like to emphasize that at this point, we don’t know whether the project is feasible,” Zimmerman said.

The two boards will make that decision after reviewing an economic impact study currently being conducted by Ripken Design, Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

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That study could be completed as early as Friday, and certainly by the end of March, Bruchey said.

That time frame will allow local officials to make a decision in time to continue negotiating with Hagerstown Suns owner Bruce Quinn, who has considered moving the team to Winchester, Va., Bruchey said.

“When we get the information back, we need to make a decision that will affect what happens in Winchester,” Bruchey said.

Some officials stressed that aside from economic impact, further review will need to be done to confirm the feasibility of the proposed site.

City Councilwoman Ashley Haywood said she is concerned about the effect a stadium at that site would have on traffic in the urban core.

Councilman Forrest Easton said he was not convinced “the property itself can even sustain a stadium.”
“There’s a lot of things we need to discuss,” Easton said.

Zimmerman’s memo calls the project a “multi-use outdoor sports & events center” and describes it as “an important catalyst for energizing downtown revitalization.”

Under Zimmerman’s plan, a project committee will oversee the project, with Jill Estavillo, the city’s economic development manager, serving as project manager.

Estavillo will convene project committee meetings, maintain a project action list and timeline, deliver regular status reports and coordinate response to media inquiries, Zimmerman said.

The city and county will meet regularly in joint session for project updates, the officials agreed.

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