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Residents react to possibility of new stadium downtown

March 12, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com

Gary Carter, owner of G&G Grill on South Potomac Street, said he is planning for possible changes to his restaurant if a baseball stadium is built nearby.

“We would turn into more of a baseball atmosphere,” he said. “We would also expand our hours into the evening. Right now, we close at 3 because there is nothing in the neighborhood.”

And, he said, the eatery’s name might be changed to Stadium Grill.

Carter, 46, said he supports having a stadium in the area of The Herald-Mail Co. parking lot, the Baltimore Street Station Car Wash and the county office building.

“A stadium there will help clean up our downtown area,” he said. “It would invite more businesses and tourists to come to the area.”

According to a published report March 6, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II described during the State of the City address the concept of a stadium development plan in that area.

Reaction was mixed Monday among people in the area who were asked their opinions of the plan.

Of the 13 people who spoke with The Herald-Mail on Monday, six of them said they were against the concept, five said they supported it and two said they were not sure or did not care.

Nancy Taylor, who lives in the C.W. Brooks building for seniors on West Baltimore Street, across the street from the proposed stadium site, said she thought putting a stadium there was a bad idea.

“The fact that the mayor would propose that shows we need a change in leadership,” she said. “We have a lot of seniors here, and it will bring a lot of noise and loitering to the area.”

Audrey Barnhart, 72, a Potomac Towers resident, said she understands the concerns some might have about the proposed site. She does not care if a stadium is put in that location, but she could see it might pose a problem for some.

“If anybody here likes to go to ballgames, they would not have that far to go,” she said. “But there are a lot of sick people here, and the noise could be a problem.”

“We’re in favor of anything that builds up downtown Hagerstown and assists us to have a more vital downtown,” said St. John’s Lutheran Church Pastor Ed Heim. “But 4,000 fans screaming next door when we’re trying to have a worship service could create some problems, along with traffic congestion.”

Rick Deming, of Demcore Development LLC, which owns the property on which Baltimore Street Station Car Wash sits, said a stadium there would “be a draw for downtown Hagerstown, helping existing businesses and hopefully spurring new businesses.” 

Fred Ebberts, 68, who lives on South Prospect Street, said he fears a stadium nearby could harm his neighborhood.

“I’d like to see them put it out there where the old hospital is because there’s plenty of parking there,” he said. “This is a pretty historic district and quiet, but a new stadium would cause congested traffic and noise out here.”

Zoltan Varga, 44, who lives on South Prospect Street, saw an advantage to having the stadium in that area.

“It would be walking distance for people living here to the games,” he said. “The stadium being close to downtown is perfect.”

“I don’t think they will have enough parking in the downtown area if they’re going to fill the stadium,” said Funkstown resident Howie Weeks, owner of Crenshaw’s Auto Repair, which is near the proposed stadium site. “It wouldn’t affect my business other than people trying to park in my parking lot.”

The concept, however, includes a parking deck on the north side of West Antietam Street.

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