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Car wash purchased for $6.25 million paves way for Maryland Stadium Authority to build Hagerstown ballpark by 2024

The Maryland Stadium Authority has bought a car wash. Soon, it will sell a newspaper building. And in 2024, Hagerstown will have a new ballpark.

As part of a complicated process to build a $69.5 million multiuse sports venue, the stadium authority needed to acquire four pieces of property in downtown Hagerstown. Earlier this year, it bought a laundromat for $400,000, a Washington County government building for $1.8 million and the old Herald-Mail newspaper building for $5.2 million. But negotiations for the fourth property — the Hagerstown Auto Spa — were prolonged, lasting until the stadium authority agreed in mid-August to pay $6.25 million.

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The negotiations were initially conducted by attorneys, Then, this summer, Gary McGuigan and Al Tyler — of the stadium authority’s Capital Projects Development Group — began meeting every two weeks with Randall Simpson, the president and CEO of WLR Automotive Group, owner of the car wash.

“To be honest, it’s a little bit more than we wanted to spend … and I’m sure it’s less than [Simpson] wanted to accept, but it was good faith negotiations,” McGuigan said. “I’m pretty happy with the way the negotiations went and where we ended up and ready to move on into construction.”

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The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is slated to expand to Hagerstown in 2024.

The ballpark is still being designed, but to expedite the overall process, demolition will begin in the coming months. By spring 2024, an Atlantic League of Professional Baseball team is expected to play in the stadium.

State property tax records value the car wash’s land and improvements at $1.7 million, but an independent appraisal from the stadium authority deemed the car wash was worth just under $4 million, according to McGuigan. The stadium authority was willing to spend more than that given how essential the property was for the project.

Without that site, the stadium could not be built downtown — something the minor league team’s ownership group, Downtown Baseball LLC, wanted to avoid. As the final land acquisition piece, the car wash became a linchpin.

“It’s the last piece of property and if we didn’t come to agreement, then things would’ve come to a stop,” McGuigan said.

In total, land acquisition cost $13.6 million, which is over the budgeted $10.5 million, according to Tyler.

However, not all of the land is needed for the ballpark. The project needed only the parking lot of the Herald-Mail property, but to acquire that, the stadium authority had to purchase the newspaper’s former building, too. The stadium authority will put the building up for sale and use the proceeds to help build the ballpark.

The stadium authority rarely buys or sells land, so it has worked with the State Highway Administration for help with that process.

“There’s a lot of unique things with this project,” Tyler said.


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