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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.
March groundbreaking targeted for baseball complex
COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal
The investors in the planned Fredericksburg minor league baseball complex plan to purchase the land in February, break ground in March and have the facility ready for the start of the 2015 season.
The complex is a joint venture between the owners of the Hagerstown Suns, a Class-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, and Diamond Nation, a New Jersey-based company that runs amateur baseball and softball camps and tournaments.
The owners of those two entities along with Rosner Automotive Group principal Ron Rosner plan to buy the 38-acre parcel in Celebrate Virginia South where the U.S. National Slavery Museum was once planned. A 4,750-seat baseball stadium for the relocated minor league team and five artificial turf fields for Diamond Nation youth and amateur baseball and softball camps and tournaments will be built there.
Diamond Nation President Keith Dilgard said the engineering, geotechnical and environmental work that has been done on the 38 acres has shown that the complex can be built there, though a good bit of grading will be required. The site borders Interstate 95′s southbound lanes and overlooks the Rappahannock River.
The baseball partners have narrowed down the field of potential general contractors to four and expect to select the firm within a couple of weeks. All are large firms that have experience building professional sports stadiums, Dilgard said. HKS Inc. is the architect.
Dilgard said the investors have also hired a new general manager who will run the Fredericksburg operation, though he didn’t reveal the person’s identity. He said the local community will be involved soon in an effort to choose the team’s name, logo and mascot.
Once the team submits final details of its development plan to Fredericksburg, City Manager Beverly Cameron will begin negotiating a deal to buy about 16 adjacent acres for the complex’s surface parking lot, which will cost the city a maximum of $8 million including land and development work. An affiliate of the Silver Cos. is the current owner of that 16 acres.
One general contractor will be hired to build both the parking facility and the remainder of the complex to benefit from economies of scale.
The stadium project itself, estimated at $29 million, is being built with private funds. Fredericksburg is providing an array of tax reimbursements to the partners to help cover the debt service on the complex.
The Suns will play one final season in Hagerstown starting this spring before moving to Fredericksburg for the 2015 season.