When the South Atlantic League came to Hagerstown in 1993, Frederick and the Carolina League waived the stipulation, mostly because the Frederick Keys were owned by the same group that had owned the Suns. That isn’t the case anymore.
* If the Suns leave, the next viable option would be an independent league team, let’s say the Atlantic League. The players wouldn’t be supplied by a major league team.
Even the Atlantic League would require a new stadium. Right now, the eight teams have parks built between 1998 and 2012. Those parks average 6,100 seats and are used for other functions besides just baseball. Hagerstown is oh-for-3 there. The last time anyone wanted to play at a facility like Municipal Stadium, they walked out of a cornfield in Iowa.
* The Atlantic League is based in the Northeast “megalopolis” area. Swing and a miss, Hagerstown. You are one of the smallest markets in all of baseball.
* The price for building Atlantic League stadiums have ranged from $23-37 million - an amount that increases with every passing moment.
* The Atlantic League requires their stadiums be maintained to Triple-A standards. Municipal Stadium is barely above Single-A requirements.
* The only factor possibly working in Hagerstown’s favor is the Atlantic League may be in the market for another franchise since Sterling, Va., will be the league’s ninth team in the near future.
The stadium is a pro-con issue. It’s expense vs. risk. It's standing pat vs. innovation. It’s need vs. luxury.
It’s just time to make a decision.
The reality is this. You have the Suns, and the Nationals, who want to be here. There have been reported offers, alternatives and options — some given by the Suns — to build a new facility or at least a framework to do it.
There are objects of technology — namely the Internet and telephones — which could help in researching options. Hagerstown isn’t the only city to face this situation and there are other cities out there looking for teams to call their own.
According to the Maryland Office of Tourism website, the Suns are “Hagerstown’s top gated attraction.” There aren’t enough music festivals and Civil War re-enactments around to fill that void.
They may not be the golden goose, but they are one of very few businesses who want to stay in Hagerstown. Things like downtown movie theaters and markets don’t come to cities who sit still.
Pro is the start of progress. Con is, well, you figure it out.
There’s reality for you.
And that’s enough to leave even Snooky, Kim Kardashian and Honey Boo Boo shaking their heads.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parasiliti: Reality is last thing considered in stadium issue
Bob Parasiliti (Joe Crocetta / April 15, 2012)