Hagerstown sports stadium gets $15 million from donor

The Hagerstown City Council says a private donor has pledged $15 million for a new downtown sports and events center.

The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown reports the donor wishes to stay anonymous for now but has asked for naming rights to the stadium and wants it built in the heart of a struggling downtown.
The stadium would house the Hagerstown Suns, a minor league affiliate of the Washington Nationals, and is expected to cost about $30 million.

The new stadium would seat between 3-4,000 fans and would include a parking deck.

Officials believe this donation may have just saved the team. The city has been debating back and forth with the Single A ball club, for more than a decade. The team's agreement with the Nationals runs out at the end of the year.

City Councilman Lewis Metzner says the donor has been connected to sports in the area for a long time.

"From the beginning we were told, you need a Frank Purdue or a Cal Ripken," Metzner says. "We may have found one. He's very humble. We had all our meetings at Chinese restaurants."

Like an angel in the outfield, this contribution would be the largest for a minor league baseball stadium project in the state, maybe even in the country.

Many residents are grateful, but would actually like to see it stay out of downtown. Hundreds have already signed a petition against it.

Metzner says this is not a high-profile, celebrity and he assures the city he will not sell the naming rights. In fact, he wants to name it after someone who passed away who was very close to him, someone who was once very important in Hagerstown.

Metzner says that while the city has received only a verbal agreement, the commitment has been made.

The city is working toward a long-term lease with the Suns, and wants $10 million in state funding to help pay for the new stadium.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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