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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.
Report to be prepared on potential city stadium
COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal
An upcoming study will look into whether a stadium for professional baseball and other uses would succeed in Fredericksburg.
The city’s Economic Development Authority on Monday voted 3-2 to spend up to $18,000 on the study, which will analyze a stadium’s market potential and local economic impact.
EDA member Tom Crimmins brought the matter to the board Monday, saying he thinks a stadium has a lot of potential for local economic development. EDA members Joe Wilson and Steve D’Lugos voted against awarding the funds for the study; board members Michael Colangelo and Chris Hornung were not at the meeting during the vote.
Local baseball enthusiasts have been working since last year to gauge support for a multi-purpose stadium. Fredericksburg City Council member Matt Kelly, who has been closely involved in the effort, said the city has met with multiple potential teams, both affiliated and unaffiliated with Major League Baseball. No deals are in place.
No exact site has been chosen for a local stadium, but Celebrate Virginia South has been a focal point. There has been some discussion about putting the stadium on the 38-acre site that was once intended to be home to the National Slavery Museum if a deal can be worked out with all stakeholders.
The stadium could potentially be home to the Celebrate Virginia Live concert series as well as a local professional baseball team, and host a variety of other community events.
City officials have been looking into a stadium that would include about 4,000 seats with additional lawn seating, and numerous family-friendly amenities, Kelly said. Officials have visited a comparable stadium in Waldorf, Md., that is home to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. That league is in expansion mode and could soon include new teams in Loudoun County and Virginia Beach.
Kelly said the cost of such a stadium, not including the land, would be about $25 million. Typically the team and locality each contributes part of the costs.
The Virginia General Assembly this year added Fredericksburg to the list of localities allowed to retain a portion of sales and use taxes generated by a stadium to help pay off the bonds issued to build the facility. That would probably be part of the financing plan should city officials decide to go forward on a stadium.
The study that the EDA approved Monday is seen as a way to help local officials decide whether to pursue a stadium. Washington-based Brailsford & Dunlavey is expected to get the contract to do the study, which should be ready within two months.
Brailsford & Dunlavey conducted a similar study for Winchester, which has also been considering a multi-use stadium. The General Assembly last year added Winchester to the same list that Fredericksburg joined this year. Winchester has been mentioned as a possible landing spot for the Hagerstown Suns, a Washington Nationals affiliate that is now negotiating with Hagerstown, Md., officials on a new stadium.