(New York, Sept. 1, 2021) – The 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, Maryland. 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,” said Rick White, ALPB President.
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. 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,” said Howard “Blackie” Bowen, President, Downtown Baseball, LLC.
In 2021, legislation was introduced and successfully shepherded through the Maryland General Assembly by Senators Paul Corderman and George Edwards allowing the 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.
On May 18, 2021, the bill was signed into law by Maryland Governor Hogan, 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, the facility will be designed to host other sports, cultural, and community events. City, county and state officials with the ownership group believe the facility will be a catalyst for downtown revitalization and inspire further economic development and tourism for Washington County and western Maryland.
MSA is currently finalizing the Memorandums of Understanding for land acquisition and the Request for Proposals for the Design-Build of the facility anticipated for advertisement in fall 2021.
Upon MSA’s completion of the design and subsequent construction process, the facility will be owned and operated by the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF).
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.
The MSA was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1986 to build, manage, and maintain quality facilities to retain Major League Baseball, and return the National Football League to Maryland. MSA’s mission has expanded and evolved over the years to include sports marketing, and numerous economic studies and construction projects, and programs. To date, MSA has completed $3 billion of projects across the state on-time and on-budget.
During the challenging environment of the COVID-19 pandemic, MSA partnered with the teams, non-profit organizations, city and state agencies to utilize the Camden Yards Sports Complex to provide nourishing meals to Marylanders in need, a safe, socially distanced place to vote, and a mass vaccination site.