The proposed Multi-Use Outdoor Sports and Events Center is envisioned to be a driving force to revitalize and renew downtown Hagerstown. It will serve as a new home for the Hagerstown Suns as well as the venue of choice for a wide array of activities throughout the year.
What is a multi-use center and how is it different from a stadium?
While a baseball stadium hosts about 70 games a year, a multi-use center is designed to be utilized year-round and as many as 200+ days a year. The facility design would include promenades, clubhouse and meeting rooms, viewing decks and other public spaces for events so as not to interfere with field maintenance. Types of events can be varied and may include other sporting events, concerts, festivals, special events, private and corporate events, weddings and more, which would all bring new, increased foot traffic to the downtown.
Why is only the one site in Downtown being considered?
The site being proposed is believed to be the location that would have the greatest impact on downtown revitalization. Because the primary goal of the project is to provide the highest and best catalyst for downtown redevelopment, other sites like the site of the former Washington County Hospital and highway interchange locations were not considered. The former hospital site is currently owned by Meritus Health, and the organization is conducting a re-use and re-development study to determine its best options for future use.
Why not renovate Municipal Stadium?
The Feasibility Study concludes that renovating the current stadium is not a feasible option due to the substantial costs to improve the facility to meet today’s standards. Site constraints also limit the ability of this location to support a new or renovated stadium and to offer the team and visitor amenities of a state-of-the-art facility.
How much will it cost to build the facility?
The project costs include the facility, an entrance plaza, a parking deck, land acquisition and soft costs such as architectural, engineering, and other pre-construction costs. The costs are roughly estimated at $37 million. The design stage of the project will happen at a later date and will provide more precise figures.
How much are the Hagerstown Suns contributing toward the cost of the new Multi-Use Center?
It is proposed that the Hagerstown Suns will pay a minimum of $6 million through lease payments toward the total costs over 20 years. This compares to the current lease of $1 per year or a total of $20 over the 20 years.
Will the City and County raise my taxes to pay for this project?
A tax increase is not required. The feasibility study models how new revenues generated by the project will pay for the local share of the debt service over the first ten years of operations. This means that according to Ripken Design’s assumptions, the City and County could pay for the new Multi-Use Center without raising taxes. The change is assessed value of properties within a ¼ mile radius of the proposed site as a result of project new development represent new revenues to the City and County.
Are the projections in the Feasibility Study too optimistic?
The most conservative assumptions and models are being considered. The study provides three financial models: Least Projected, Projected, and Highest Projected. Staff are focusing only on the most conservative “Least Projected” model. The Feasibility Study projects that new revenues will be generated by the project, including incremental new tax revenue from increased property values. The geographic area of increased property values is projected at ¼ mile radius from the project site. This is more conservative than ½ mile radius of case study in Greenville, SC. The percentage change in assessed value selected for the model was more conservative than the case study in Greenville, SC.
Where will people park?
A 4,000-seat facility would have a maximum capacity of 6,000 people, taking into consideration additional seating areas such as the club restaurant, lawn seating and picnic areas. As a worst-case scenario, full capacity of 6,000 would require approximately 2,000 parking spaces (based on minor league baseball requirements and zoning requirements). Based on an extensive Parking Study recently completed by Rich and Associates, there are currently more than 3,800 public and non-residential private parking spaces within a ½ mile radius (about four blocks in any direction) of the proposed site, and the proposed new parking deck would add 400 more for a total of over 4,200 parking spaces. An essential part of minimizing congestion will be the education of event patrons so they know where the parking is available. In addition, the City will have to develop improved “way-finding” signs to help event attendees find parking easily and reduce “recirculation” of traffic looking for parking.
Parking Supply 4,200 (400 spaces in new deck + 3,800 existing)
Parking Demand 2,000
- Over 3,800 existing parking spaces within four blocks of site
- Based on parking study done by Rich & Associates
- Based on 6,000 seat capacity (1 vehicle per 3 attendees)
How will traffic be managed?
A 4,000 seat facility would have a maximum capacity of 6,000 people, taking into consideration additional seating areas such as the club restaurant, lawn seating and picnic areas. As a worst-case scenario, full capacity of 6,000 would result in approximately 2,000 inbound vehicle trips, again based on minor league baseball statistics and zoning requirements. The City’s Engineering Division completed a traffic impact study with the following results:
- Current City Center traffic volumes are down at least 15% from past years.
- Inbound traffic can use up to nine main routes into City Center.
- Staff recently conducted traffic counts at nine City Center intersections during the evening rush hour. All of the studied intersections are currently operating at high Levels of Service (like in school an “A” is very efficient and minimal delays while an “F” is failing and expect major delays and sitting through multiple signal cycles at an intersection).
- Staff then layered the 2,000 inbound event trips onto the evening rush hour volumes. Actual customer data from the Suns was used to determine the direction and distribution of the expected 2,000 inbound vehicles. The model assumed 90% of traffic would arrive within a single hour and would overlap with evening rush hour to be conservative.
The results indicate that eight locations maintain the same LOS, and only one intersection degraded to LOS “E.” (Washington at Summit/Jonathan).
An “event day” signal timing plan may need to be developed to mitigate some of these issues.
A facility in a City Center location would likely have a higher degree of dispersion of arrival times given that some event goers will seek additional dining and entertainment activities before and after events. Additionally, various parking locations will disperse traffic greater than one single lot. Remember you don’t drive to the stadium; rather you drive to the parking area, and then walk to the stadium, past shops, restaurants and other businesses.
Let’s not forget, traffic in a community’s central business district is a GOOD thing!
Watch this video for more on traffic and parking:
How will the construction of the library a block away affect this project?
The construction periods would not overlap. The Washington County Free Library is scheduled to be complete by March 2013, and construction on a multi-use center would not start until spring/summer 2013 at the earliest. Additionally, the final months of construction at the library will be primarily interior work.
How long will it take to build the new Multi-Use Center?
Under an aggressive schedule, construction would take approximately 12-18 months. The goal is to begin construction in the spring/summer of 2013 and open for the 2015 season.
How does a multi-use center fit into the City’s continued efforts for downtown redevelopment and revitalization?
A downtown multi-use center is consistent with the City’s designation and continuation of the Arts & Entertainment District. It also serves to strengthen other major development projects that relate to the A&E District, including the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, the Maryland Theatre and the Washington County Free Library. The facility will improve investor confidence and spur additional new investment and development, thereby improving the quality of life in the greater Hagerstown and Washington County communities.
Is safety an issue in Downtown?
Some people have a perception that crime is an issue in downtown Hagerstown, but statistically, the rates are very low. Increased foot traffic in the area around events will create a greater sense and perception of safety.
Other cities have built stadiums and multiplexes in their downtowns. What has been the result?
There are several success stories of communities building similar facilities to fuel revitalization and redevelopment in their area. A case study in Greenville, SC shows a situation most like Hagerstown. Greenville built a multi-use center in 2006 and saw significant changes in their community. For example, 110 new businesses opened within a half-mile radius, bringing in approximately $42 million in annual sales. Additionally, building permit records in Greenville show there was about $50 million in new commercial and residential investment after the opening of the facility.
What will happen if the Hagerstown Suns leave Hagerstown?
According to the Feasibility Study, if the Hagerstown Suns leave, the loss to the local economy will be significant, and includes:
- A loss of approximately $540,000 in Direct Local Spending
- A loss of approximately $140,000 of Tax Revenue
- A loss of approximately 150 Full-Time and Seasonal Jobs
What are the next steps for the project?
The community can envision the project in five phases:
- Concept: Creating a vision for a Multi-Use Outdoor Sports and Events Center
- Feasibility study and validation: Is it possible? Does the concept make economic sense?
- Financing: How do we pay for it?
- Design: What will it look like? What detailed specifications need to be defined prior to breaking ground?
- Construction: Breaking ground and making the drawings a reality
We are currently in Phase 3. We have received the feasibility study which provides three (3) financing models, and the City and County officials voted to approve $400,000 each for 20 years should the project move forward. We have outlined a preliminary funding plan, and we are working to confirm all of the sources of project funding, including private contributions.
How can I support the project?
You can sign a petition of support, submit comments of support or send a full letter of support. Just go to the “Support the Efforts” section of www.supportdowntownhagerstown.com.
Who are the members of the Project Committee?
The current members of the Project Committee are as follows:
Business and Community Leaders:
- David Hanlin – Washington County Free Library
- Tim Henry – Blue Ridge Bank
- Shaun O’Neal – ECS Mid-Atlantic & former Assistant General Manager of Frederick Keys Baseball
City of Hagerstown:
- Michelle Burker – Director of Finance
- Eric Deike – Public Works Manager
- Jill Estavillo – Economic Development Manager
- Michelle Hepburn – Budget Officer
- John Lestitian – Director of Community and Economic Development
- Rodney Tissue – City Engineer
- Bruce Zimmerman – City Administrator
Downtown Alliance: Francine Donachie
Greater Hagerstown Committee: Jim Kercheval
Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce: Brien Poffenberger
Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission: Mike Zampelli
Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF): Greg Snook
Washington County Government: Greg Murray