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Public invited to tour Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium

The city wants to share its concerns about renovating the 82-year-old ballpark

September 16, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

City of Hagerstown officials have all but ruled out the renovation of Municipal Stadium as they continue to look into building a downtown multiuse sports and events center that would be the new home of the Hagerstown Suns.

As a way to show their concerns with the 82-year-old ballpark, the city has invited the public come out for a tour of Municipal Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 19, to get a look at the challenges of renovating the facility, according to a news release from the City of Hagerstown.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue and Hagerstown Suns General Manager Bill Farley will conduct the tour at 6 p.m., city spokeswoman Erin Wolfe said.

“The tour will begin with a brief presentation to give attendees an overview of what they’ll be seeing,” Wolfe said. “Guests will get a thorough walk-through of the site, including the concourse area, the clubhouse, around the outfield and even outside the stadium to see the Town Run drainage way.”

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Extensive and costly renovations would be needed to bring the ballpark back up to Major League Baseball standards, city and Suns officials have said.

Tissue said Municipal Stadium has “many issues,” including space limitations, major flooding and drainage problems, and grandstand areas that are considered obsolete.

The rock ledge in the outfield has produced concerns for the Suns’ parent club, the Washington Nationals, who have said they are reluctant to send their top outfield prospects to the low-level Class A team because the hill in the left-center field area can be dangerous and cause injury.

Meanwhile, city officials have said it views the proposed stadium, which would be built near the intersection of West Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue, as the spark that could spur redevelopment of the city’s struggling downtown area.

City Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said bringing Municipal Stadium up to modern standards would require “a significant expense,” and it’s important for city officials to select the right location for their investment moving forward.

“We’re hoping to spur downtown redevelopment,” Brubaker said. “Just faceover (at Municipal Stadium) probably would not keep the Suns here.”

Tissue said he plans to show attendees Wednesday a comparison between the current ballpark and its “1950s-type construction” to what is needed for a modern professional baseball facility, like the one proposed in downtown Hagerstown.

Those attending should anticipate periods of light walking and some standing. Anyone who needs special accommodations can contact Farley at the Suns’ office by calling 301-791-6266, ext. 107, Wolfe said.

The tour, which will be held rain or shine, is open to citizens of Hagerstown and Washington County. Those who wish to attend should meet at the ticket booth by 6 p.m.

For more information, contact the city’s Department of Parks and Engineering at 301-739-8577, ext. 125.

If you go ...

What: Tour of Municipal Stadium to highlight renovation challenges
When: Wednesday, Sept. 19, 6 p.m.
Where: 274 E. Memorial Blvd., Hagerstown

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