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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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General Assembly bill would support Fredericksburg stadium

COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal

The Virginia General Assembly this session will take up a bill that would allow the city of Fredericksburg to capture more revenue from the planned minor league baseball complex.

State law allows certain localities, including Fredericksburg, to retain a portion of sales tax revenues generated at public facilities such as minor league baseball stadiums to help pay off the bonds issued to build them.

That “clawback” allows the locality to get 3.5 percentage points of the state sales taxes collected at the publicly owned stadium.

But in Fredericksburg the 5,000-seat minor league stadium that is planned at Celebrate Virginia South for the Hagerstown Suns, as well as the adjacent turf fields that will be used for Diamond Nation softball and baseball tournaments, will be primarily privately financed.

The city of Fredericksburg will be paying to develop the parking lot for the complex, but that cost is expected to be about $8 million compared with the private sector contribution of an estimated $29 million. The city will then help the private investors pay their debt service by contributing the tax revenues generated by the complex.

Because of the unique structure of the Fredericksburg financing setup, said City Manager Beverly Cameron, the state’s Department of Taxation advised the city to seek supplemental legislation to ensure that it could receive the clawback under the statute.

Virginia Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, then submitted the bill (Senate Bill no. 579) at the request of the city.

The legislation would add to the definition of a public facility “a sports complex consisting of a minor league baseball stadium and related tournament, training, and parking facilities, where a municipality owns a component of the sports complex.”

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 land on which the stadium will be built is where the U.S. National Slavery Museum was once planned. It borders Interstate 95′s southbound lanes and overlooks the Rappahannock River.

The Suns, a Class-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, plan to relocate to Fredericksburg from Hagerstown, Md.