County Rules Out Stadium For Minor-league Baseball

No Sites Meet Hagerstown Team's Requirements, Officials Say

March 26, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff writer

For the second time in a year, county officials have ruled out building a stadium as a home for a minor-league baseball team.

EconomicDevelopment Director Michael S. Lofton's review of county propertiesand privately owned acreage turned up no sites that meet the requirements spelled out by the owners of the Hagerstown Suns, who are looking for a new home, county officials said.

Louise Hayman, a spokeswoman for County Executive Robert R. Neall, said the team's owner, Peter M. Kirk, chairman of Maryland Baseball, was told of the decision yesterday.

Neall had directed Lofton tosearch for sites March 5, after Kirk said he would move the Suns to the county if he found at least 30 acres and an affordable price -- if not free land. The location also would have to offer easy access tohighways and to sewer and water facilities, he said.

Kirk, a Columbia real estate developer, has been looking for a new home for the Suns since February, when he announced he was moving the team from Hagerstown after the 1992 season.

Kirk was unavailable yesterday, butsaid recently that he would like to see a 10,000-seat stadium, whichwould be big enough for a Triple A team, built in the U.S. 50 corridor linking Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties. He likes the area because it offers 3 million people -- many with high incomes -- within a 30-minute drive.

He said he would like to use the stadium, expected to cost $9 million, first as a base for the Hagerstown team,which is a Double A franchise, and then as a home for a Triple A team.

Hayman said yesterday that no financing package was discussed by county officials.

"We only would've discussed money if we had gotten over the first hurdle, which was coming up with a site," she said.

The county's decision means Prince George's County officials will have one fewer competitor in trying to come up with a financing package to convince Kirk to move the Suns to Bowie. City officials fromWilmington, Del., also have told Kirk they are interested in being home to a team.

Timothy Ayers, a spokesman for Prince George's County executive Parris N. Glendening, said yesterday that the county is continuing efforts to come up with a financing package to build a stadium and bring the team to Bowie.

Lofton's search was the second time in the past year local officials looked into the possibility of aminor-league team and stadium.

Last April, when Kirk was competing for a Triple A franchise, a group of 12 Annapolis and county officials and business leaders worked on a proposal to help him bring a team to Anne Arundel County.

Under the proposed package, Kirk's Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership would have put up $1.5 million toward the stadium's cost, while $4.5 million would have come from the state and the $3 million balance would have come from either Prince George's County or the City of Annapolis, whichever got the team.

Annapolis city officials considered donating land for the stadium near the city landfill and water supply in Crownsville.

The proposal fellthrough because of the costs involved, and the Triple A league owners eventually decided to award the franchise to other cities anyway.

Mary Burkholder, economic development administrator for the Annapolis, said yesterday that Lofton contacted her recently to ask about the status of the Crownsville site, but that the costs of road work alone would make it too expensive.

"It's close enough to I-97 that you can see it from the interstate, but there's no direct access, so you're talking about a whole new interchange," she said.

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