Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

April 21, 2014

First base

Study of pro baseball should proceed

The idea of spending up to $7,500 for a study about the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area should at least be allowed to reach first base.

There appears to be support for the study from some Allegany County and city of Cumberland officials. If the study does move forward, it would be essentially a bare-bones look at whether there is a chance for a professional baseball team to locate here.

Jeffrey Barclay, an economic development specialist for the county, said the study would not be an extensive one, rather it would be a no-frills approach to finding out whether there is any interest by a team. The study may be done by Brailsford and Dunlavey Inc., a Washington consulting firm with extensive baseball contacts.

If a team is interested, then it might be possible to involve the Maryland Stadium Authority and see about the feasibility of involving a private investor and other funding, Barclay has said. “This is looking at possibilities,” Barclay said.

County Commission president Mike McKay said he does not favor using taxpayer money to build a stadium. He also said he has heard from two constituents who are opposed to having government money used for a study.

The city of Hagerstown has been the home of professional teams on and off since 1915, according to Capital News Service. But Hub City baseball has fallen on difficult times in recent years. Fredericksburg, Va., is attempting to convince the Hagerstown Suns to move to Fredericksburg, once a new stadium is constructed. The move could take place in another year or so. In the meantime, attendance at Hagerstown games is down and the team ranks last in attendance in the 14-team South Atlantic League.

Still, we believe a low-cost study of local professional baseball is worthwhile. If the city and county split the cost, it would amount to only a few thousand dollars for each entity. The study results may be surprisingly favorable.

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