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Audience of supporters and opponents of stadium project hear update

October 09, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • A crowd attends the public information session with Hagerstown City Council at Hager Hall Conference and Events Center Tuesday about the proposed new stadium and multi-use center.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

Hagerstown officials hosted a public information meeting and hearing Tuesday night as a way to provide updated information about its proposed downtown multiuse sports and events center and hear concerns from the public.

About 80 citizens turned out to Hager Hall Conference and Events Center for the meeting, which included a video presentation laying out the progress of where the project currently stands as well as the city’s plan for the facility, if officials decide to move forward.

Contingent upon a private donation of $15 million, which is still not confirmed, the project now is estimated to cost around $37 million for the construction of the facility at the corner of West Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue, according to project manager Jill Estavillo.

Construction also would include an adjacent parking deck, the demolition of several blighted properties along West Antietam Street to create a plaza-type entryway to the park and the possible renovation of the Antietam Paper building into a team store or area for children’s activities, Estavillo said.

“I think it’s a positive step in the movement of the project,” she said. “It’s still a proposed project, but it’s an important step in the process and we were pleased with the fact that we were able to share information as well as hear from the public.”

Doors opened to the public in the afternoon and people had the opportunity to see information, such as preliminary plans for the stadium and funding models, before it was opened up to the public to speak about the project.

Twenty-eight people — 18 in favor and 10 against — addressed the city officials about the project.

Opponents presented many of the same concerns, including the cost to taxpayers and its proposed location, while proponents expressed excitement about what the facility could mean for baseball and revitalization of the Hagerstown’s struggling downtown.

“The public investment will probably be returned eight-fold in terms of private investment around the stadium that will then elevate jobs, elevate the tax base and generate the revenue that’s needed in taxes,” supporter David Hanlin said.

Members of the Hagerstown City Council spoke after the speakers, assuring people that the city remains in the planning stage and no formal commitment to move forward has been made.

In addition to the need to make sure that the project is financially feasible, a longterm lease with the Hagerstown Suns as the primary tenant still needs to be secured if the project moves forward, city officials said.

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