Advertisement

Area residents have mixed feelings about Hagerstown mayor's stadium comments

September 05, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhun@herald-mail.com

Area residents had mixed feelings this week about Hagerstown Mayor David Gysberts’s recent comments that the city still wants to build a downtown stadium regardless of whether the Hagerstown Suns baseball team stays or goes.

Brett Oxendine of Hagerstown said that the minor league Suns have been around since he was a kid, but the city should “call it a day” if they leave.

“If they’re moving, don’t build the stadium,” said Oxendine, 33. “I think they (the Hagerstown City Council) just wants to spend money.”

Earl Coffman of Hagerstown said he supports building the stadium in its downtown location even if the Suns leave, because he thinks another team will come.

“We’re close to a lot of professional teams, and it’d be so much easier to attract a new baseball team with a new stadium,” he said. “I really think it would help the economy downtown.”

On Friday, Gysberts said that the city would not have a problem “acquiring interest” from professional baseball teams to move to Hagerstown, The Herald-Mail reported. The Suns are currently negotiating to relocate south to Fredericksburg, Va.

Of the 10 local residents who spoke with a reporter about the issue this week, seven said they would not support a new downtown stadium if the Suns leave, two said they would, and one man said he would support it but not downtown.

Kelly Rohrer of Hagerstown said the city should let the Suns leave, tear down Municipal Stadium and build a new stadium in the same location, with restaurants or a casino at the former Municipal Electric Light Plant site across the street.

“If we put in a brand new stadium, there’ll be a team wanting to come here,” he said. “You’ll get people in because some families go to the casino and then go to the Suns games.”

But Rohrer, 53, said the downtown site discussed for the stadium near the corner of West Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue is not the right place for it.

Andy Gage of Hagerstown said that the city should not build a new stadium if the Suns leave, because of the types of teams he thinks would come to the city.

“To me, if you build a new stadium without the Suns, chances are you’re bringing in an independent franchise, which has no affiliation, or you’re bringing in an independent franchise that’s outside of the major leagues,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense to do that; the money could be put to better use for downtown redevelopment.”

Gage, 48, pointed out that with the city’s lack of support for the Suns, a low-level Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, it would be much less likely to support an independent franchise.

Travis Stillwell, 39, who moved to Hagerstown in January, said he has gone to multiple Suns game this summer, but would not support a new stadium if they leave, because there are not a lot of people at the games now.

“There’s like a thousand people at the Suns games now,” he said. “This is not a real big baseball area in my mind.”

Dallas Eichelberger said that he would not invest the money in a new stadium because it could be spent on other issues in the city.

“Why build a stadium if they have nobody coming in?” he asked. “Too much money is getting involved in sports.”

Jill Farester, 24, of Hagerstown said she does not support the downtown location for the stadium, and if the team leaves, she is against building a new stadium anywhere.

“If you’re putting in that much money and don’t have a new team, it’s going to incur debt on the city,” she said. “If they are moving, why not fix up the stadium right now, unless it’s irreparable?”

Hagerstown city officials are scheduled to meet in closed session with Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn at 4 p.m. on Friday.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|