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Bill Freehling is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Bill Freehling.
Spotsylvania EDA to hear presentation on ballpark plan
COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal
Spotsylvania’s Economic Development Authority will hear a presentation from Play Ball VA! on Thursday night about an idea for a professional baseball stadium in the county.
Play Ball VA! principal Irv McGowan is on the EDA agenda to make an “economic development presentation” scheduled to start about 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of the county-owned building at 9019 Old Battlefield Blvd. The meeting is open to the public.
Spotsylvania Economic Development Director Tom Rumora said Play Ball’s principals approached the EDA about making the presentation Thursday. The EDA will not take any action following the presentation.
McGowan said Play Ball VA! has identified 40 acres between U.S. 1 and Interstate 95 just south of the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center that the organization could purchase for a stadium complex. The land is roughly where Old Telegraph Road meets U.S. 1 and has I-95 frontage.
McGowan and fellow Play Ball principal Bob Hagan have been openly critical of a proposed deal that could result in the Hagerstown Suns relocating to Fredericksburg’s Celebrate Virginia South development. Hagan previously helped lead the effort to attract the Suns before turning critical of the team and its financing proposal earlier this year.
On Tuesday night, Fredericksburg City Council could vote on a financing proposal for the city stadium complex, which would include a 5,000-seat stadium for the Suns and five artificial turf fields where New Jersey-based Diamond Nation would run baseball and softball camps and tournaments.
Hagan said a 6,500-seat stadium is eyed on the 40 acres Play Ball VA! is targeting in Spotsylvania. That would be big enough to house a AA minor league baseball team.
Based on research he has done, Hagan thinks the stadium could be built for about $26 million not including land costs. He envisions it being financed through a public-private partnership between the county and a team.
Hagan said he has received interest from teams in relocating to Spotsylvania, which is outside the territory controlled by the Suns’ affiliated Major League team, the Washington Nationals. Spotsylvania is in the territory of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, however, and that team would need to give permission to any affiliated team looking to move to the county. An independent professional team would not need that permission.
Hagan has not named any teams that he said have expressed an interest. He said he has not received permission from the Flying Squirrels for a Spotsylvania team but thinks that could be obtained.
He also said it doesn’t make sense to have two stadiums and teams in the Fredericksburg area. He said he hopes Thursday’s presentation convinces the public that there are other minor league baseball teams that could come to the area if the Suns deal does not move forward.