Hagerstown Suns Owner Eyes A Home In The County

Minor-league Baseball Franchise May Build Stadium Here

March 06, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff writer

Anne Arundel County is being considered as a home for a minor-leaguebaseball franchise.

The owners of two minor-league baseball teamsmet for an hour yesterday with County Executive Robert R. Neall and his staff to discuss the possibility of building a 10,000-seat stadium.

Peter M. Kirk, chairman of the owners group, Maryland Baseball, said that he hopes to build a stadium big enough for a Class AAA team in Anne Arundel or Prince George's County. The stadium would be home to a Class AA team initially and then a Class AAA team if he wins an expansion franchise, he said.

No sites or proposals were discussedyesterday, but Kirk said he must come up with a proposal for relocating one of the group's two teams, the Hagerstown Suns, and that Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties are the chief contenders.

Theowners announced Feb. 18 that the team will move from Hagerstown after the 1992 season because of changes in the operating agreement between Major League Baseball and minor-league owners that have added to the cost of running the Class AA Eastern League team.

The group, which also owns the Class A Frederick Keys in the Carolina League, hasuntil the end of the month to reach a decision. At that time, the Eastern League owners will meet to come up a proposed replacement site,Kirk said.

Kirk said he wants to locate two more professional baseball teams in Maryland, a Class AA and a Class AAA franchise. But hesaid that the first priority is finding a home for the Suns.

"At this point, we're exploring everything to see what makes sense," saidKirk.

Louise Hayman, a spokesman for Neall, said that the closed-door meeting included Neall, Economic Development Secretary Michael Lofton and Neall aide Sam Minnitte. She said that Neall remained open-minded about the idea and promised to get back to Kirk in two or three weeks.

The stadium would cost $9 million without the land, Kirk said.

Hayman said the group asked for no specific amount of money,and that there were too many variables, such as costs for land and infrastructure, to discuss the overall budget.

"Everything is on the table right now," Hayman said.

The owners also have discussed moving the Hagerstown Suns to Wilmington, Del., for the 1993 season.

Kirk said that that move remains a possibility. However, the owners like the Anne Arundel and Prince George's corridor because it offers 3 million people -- many with expendable income -- within a 30-minutedrive.

A minor-league team in the Annapolis-Bowie area has been discussed for more than a year, since Kirk's group formally announced it was seeking one of two expansion franchises planned for Class AAA.

Kirk lost his bid to Triple A owners for one of the two expansionteams due in 1993.

He was able to promise a package that includeda site along Route 50 in Bowie and $4.5 million in state funds, $3 million from Prince George's County and $1.5 million from the team owners, who also would have paid $5 million to buy the expansion franchise.

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