Today, the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) Board of Directors has approved the membership application of Downtown Baseball, LLC to join the ALPB in 2023, with a team in Hagerstown, Md. The club will play home games at a newly constructed downtown Hagerstown Multi–Use Sports and Events Facility.
“We are thrilled that Atlantic League baseball is coming to Hagerstown. We are grateful to the State of Maryland for its commitment to a downtown recreational venue built for the enjoyment of all Hagerstown and Washington County residents,” Rick White, ALPB President, said in a press release.
The unnamed Hagerstown baseball team will join nine other clubs, with Staten Island being the ninth next year, making the Atlantic League a ten-team member association ’23.
The new team’s ownership group consists of: Howard “Blackie” Bowen, Don Bowman, James Holzapfel, and Frank Boulton. Soon Downtown Baseball, LLC will solicit input from citizens of Hagerstown and Washington County for the new team’s name and announce a naming contest.
“We are very excited to bring high-quality professional baseball to Hagerstown through the Atlantic League,” Howard “Blackie” Bowen, President, Downtown Baseball, LLC, said. “We are also pleased to have our new first class ballpark located in downtown Hagerstown, where it will stimulate additional economic development for our community,”
In 2021, Maryland General Assembly Senators Paul Corderman and George Edwards introduced and shepherded legislation successfully, allowing the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) to issue bonds for a new Hagerstown facility to be leased by an Atlantic League team. The MSA was established 35 years ago and managed the construction and design of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the world-class Major League Baseball facility that inspired urban revitalization across the nation, per press release.
On May 18, 2021, Maryland Governor Hogan signed the bill into law, the same day that the MSA presented its Concept Design Report for the Hagerstown Multi-Use Sports and Events Facility before the Mayor of Hagerstown and City Council.
The bill, effective October 1, 2021, approves funding for a new Multi-Use Sports and Event Facility within the City of Hagerstown and authorizes the MSA to issue up to $59.5 million in bonds to finance the acquisition, design, construction, and related expenses to construct the facility.
Additionally, Governor Hogan’s supplemental budget provided $8.5 million dollars towards this effort, while the General Assembly designated another $1.5 million in the fy2023 Capital Budget for the project.
In addition to serving as the home of a new team in the Atlantic League, innovative construction will design the facility to host other sports, cultural, and community events. City, county and state officials with the ownership group believe the entertainment space will be a catalyst for downtown revitalization and inspire further economic development and tourism for Washington County and Western Maryland.
MSA’s Chairman Thomas Kelso added his thoughts. “The Maryland Stadium Authority was pleased to undertake the previous Hagerstown studies to provide information to local officials and state leaders to assist in decisions about investment and benefits for their communities and constituents,” he said. “With the success of recent state legislation, the MSA looks forward to working with our project partners and delivering the Hagerstown Multi–Use Sports and Events Facility on-time and on-budget,” he added.
Also, MSA–in conjunction with teams, non-profit organizations, and city and state agencies–played a part in helping Marylanders in need during the COVID-19 Pandemic by helping the utilizing of the Camden Yards Sports Complex to provide nourishing meals to them. Plus, the athletic compound offered a safe, socially distanced place to vote, as well as a mass vaccination site.
The Hagerstown Suns were a Minor League Baseball team based in Hagerstown, Md., and played in the South Atlantic League (SAL). The club ceased operations after the 2020 season.
Please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com for information on the ALPB.
— Jerry Del Priore