New stadium should be built along Interstate 81
To the editor:
As a Hagerstown Suns season ticketholder who lives in Frederick County, Md., I have the luxury of viewing the stadium rebuild/relocate issue from the forest and not the trees vantage point. I have a vested interest, but I will not be directly impacted by any decisions being made. However, I am disappointed by the continual adversarial environment between the Suns organization, local political and planning individuals, and the citizens of Hagerstown. I want the Suns to stay in Hagerstown. I think it will be good for the local economy and fan base. We need decisions, and we need them soon.
I strongly recommend all interested parties seriously research and consider options of building a new minor league stadium somewhere within a home run shot of Interstate 81 in Washington County. Why? Recent history shows astronomically positive benefits. When the Frederick Keys relocated from McCurdy Field downtown to Harry Grove Stadium within sight of Interstate 70, they immediately attracted a fan base not only from Frederick (city and county), but also Carroll, Howard and Montgomery counties. On some nights, more than 10,000 people attend a Keys baseball game.
Imagine a regional sporting mecca off of Interstate 81, with Little League amenities as well. I strongly encourage everyone to think regionally, not just locally. Building off the interstate would allow easy access to fans from Martinsburg, W.Va., as well as from Greencastle and Chambersburg, Pa. We might even be able to attract families from northern Virginia near Winchester. Cal Ripken and the Aberdeen Ironbirds understood the value of building a minor league ballpark and youth fields off Interstate 95. Everyone wins, from kids to the Suns to the local community political figures and Hagerstown citizens.
Why try to fit our future dreams into a small parcel of land downtown that is so contentious when we can build where space is plentiful? Fans eat and patronize businesses in downtown Frederick before and after Keys games all of the time. It could happen in Hagerstown, too.
If the Suns became a Tri-State (or even a Quad-State) attraction and recreational venue, imagine what packed crowds could do for the Hagerstown economy. Everyone must come together soon to make this work. Just like the Suns, you can’t win if you do not play.