I was able to find time in my busy (snicker) post-baseball schedule to take the tour given by the city of Hagerstown of Municipal Stadium and frankly nothing changed my mind.
In fact,they solidified my thoughts that the Muni was not only obsolete,but decrepit as well.
Rachel and I decided to take the tour,mainly to see some of the "sights",see some parts of the facility that you rarely get to see and snap some pictures for this post.
As we entered the stadium,I told Rachel to be ready for some nastiness and these things can occasionally get heated.
When people with passionate feelings on both sides collide in the political arena,there often can be times when things can get less than civil and I wanted her to know that up front.
We sat in the "wonderful" first base bleachers (Boy,did I HATE sitting in those during the Mandalay year that the Grandstand was considered a separate area) and I would guess there was between 100-150 people attending.
I would say the crowd was pretty split,but the anti-stadium people were more visible and more vocal.
I knew most of the pro-stadium supporters as we all attend the games,but I was surprised to not see more supporters.
My best guess was that the six o'clock start time might have hurt some people being able to make it,although one could apply that to either side.
The main speakers were from the city-City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman and City Engineer Rodney Tissue.
Both walked the attendees through a pamphlet to show just how outdated the Muni is and compared it to other stadiums in the South Atlantic League.
I thought the pamphlet was informative mainly as it showed the dates that various improvements were made and gave me a handy reference point for future posts on the Muni.
It was made clear that questions were to be asked on the tour,which was broken into two groups,but that was not acceptable to two older gentlemen,who kept insisting that they had questions.
Zimmerman and Tissue politely dismissed their requests,which led to a few people growling about that and a few members of the "Hagerstown Tea Party" chimed in with their thoughts,which I didn't remember anyone asking for at that time.
I can never understand why people cannot follow the rules of a discussion in these cases.
It was the city's game,so they make the rules,Don't like it? Don't come.
The tour started and we seemed to be in the anti-stadium group (luck of the draw) as we saw the clubhouses and trust me they were worse than I had been expecting.
The Suns clubhouse was certainly nicer than the visitors,which was about the size of my living room and dining room put together,but still not exactly the lap of luxury either.
The visitors clubhouse was small and just plain nasty.
Locker rooms are never going to be the cleanest of places-25 to 30 men in a room is never going remind anyone of Martha Stewart,but it was pretty bad.
The locker stalls were about the same size for both team as each player appeared to have a space roughly about three to four feet wide and a small stool to sit on.
Players would not have space for a chair in front of these lockers,if available and shoving 25 chairs in either locker room would be a tight fit,but downright impossible in the visitors.
Rachel and I attempted to stay near the back of our group in order to discuss things among ourselves and try to somewhat avoid the tea party people.
We were able to walk along the outfield wall starting from right to left and was astonished at the condition of the visitors bullpen.
Garbage everywhere and a pretty poor area for pitchers to warm up in.
Perhaps,things could have been cleaned up (or not),but even with a strong dose of Mr.Clean,they were still substandard.
The famed hill in the left field area was even more pronounced when you are actually on the field.
I came away even more convinced that the teams that play there are courting injury to their left fielders and to a lesser degree the centerfielders.
It was pretty neat to see the area where we sit from the perspectives of the players on the field,which I thought was well worth the time spent
A nacho cheese machine sitting directly next to bags of lime and other such tools of the trade.
I have always knew the Muni's food was bad,but Ortho Nacho Cheese?
The questions became more insistent about the stadium's funding (the mystery 15 million dollar man),what becomes of the Muni (unknown),why can't the city buy some of the neighboring buildings to help a Muni renovation (appears that the owners want more money and the city wants a new field anyway),the price of parking downtown (It is going to happen) and most often-most people HATE the site selected downtown.
I heard several of the opponents ( the non tea-party members) basically say this refrain- "I am not anti-stadium,I just dislike the proposed location".
I am not a fan of the site selected and wish that an I-81 site would have been the pick.
I think it would draw more fans from other cities and I think that it would take away many of the worries about traffic bottlenecks as well.
I also believe that when someone slaps 15 million dollars on the table and make that a condition of the deal,you listen to their words.
As the tour ended,it was beginning to get tiresome to hear the same voices that never change their line of questioning,so we left the stadium to the remainder of the people and I had this thought.
I don't think this changed one mind on either side,I think people just hunkered down and burrowed in their already dug in bunkers..
In conclusion,nothing was really accomplished,but I did get an evening with my daughter,some pictures (up later) and some time with the closed minded.
There you go,people-my charity work for the week!
Come back later when I add some pictures and live video to this!