State could help pay for new stadium in Hagerstown, O'Malley says

April 24, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Among Md. Gov. Martin O'Malley's activities during a visit to Hagerstown Monday was his address to a Workers Memorial Day ceremony at the Central Maryland AFL-CIO Council office on East Franklin Street.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — If local government and business leaders want a new multiuse stadium in Hagerstown, the state could help fund it, according to Gov. Martin O’Malley.

O’Malley is the second high-ranking state official to express support for a stadium in recent weeks, joining Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot. The governor’s comments came Monday during a visit to Washington County.

Asked about the stadium plan, O’Malley said: “It could be a great idea, bringing people back to the City Center. What, hopefully, the people of Hagerstown and Washington County will work on is the consensus with their business community and bring that consensus to Annapolis.

“It would have to be some sort of partnership,” he said.
“Wherever we’ve done these in other places ... a portion of it has been private investment, a portion county and city, and a portion of it state investment. There’s some things that are so large, they make sense, but they can only be accomplished if we do them together.”

Local leaders are trying to work on a package of city, county, state and private spending for a new stadium.

Municipal Stadium, the current home of the minor league baseball Hagerstown Suns, is more than 80 years old.

Bruce Quinn, the majority owner of the team, also has been negotiating with Winchester, Va., for a possible stadium there for the Suns, a Single A affiliate of the major league Washington Nationals.

Hagerstown, Washington County and state elected officials met last week to talk about plans for a $30 million stadium and parking deck near the intersection of East Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue, but there has been no agreement on how to fund it.

The city and county plan to meet again on Tuesday to discuss the idea further.

At Municipal Stadium on April 11, Franchot said: “I can pretty much assure every taxpayer in this area that if the investment’s made in this stadium, you’ll get something that makes money, No. 1, and No. 2, it’s a source of civic pride for the next hundred years.”

O’Malley and Franchot make up two thirds of the Maryland Board of Public Works, which reviews and votes on certain state spending, such as capital projects.

“I can pretty much assure everybody that at the state level, there will be a positive response to a good consensus proposal,” Franchot said. “You’ve got the site, you’ve got the team. Don’t give it up.”

The Herald-Mail Articles