Will Fredericksburg play ball?
COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposalBY ROBYN SIDERSKY
WALDORF, Md.—There’s a bounce house, water bumper cars and music blasting from the speakers.
And there’s also a professional baseball game being played at the same time.
This was the scene at Regency Furniture Stadium Thursday night. It’s also what Fredericksburg officials hope to bring to the region in the next two years.
A group called Rappahannock Baseball Initiative, headed up by former Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce President Bob Hagan, is the force behind it.
Hagan brought a group of interested stakeholders to Waldorf Thursday to tour the facility and watch the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs play.
Officials from Stafford, Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and Caroline, as well as local business leaders are considering bringing a professional baseball team and stadium to the region.
Area officials have met with Opening Day Partners, a minor league baseball developer that owns the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
The stadium where the Blue Crabs play is also used for hundreds of community events, according to team officials.
Joel Seiden, general manager of the Blue Crabs, said that in one weekend the facility hosted a 3,000-person church service and a classic car show drawing 1,500 people, simultaneously.
“These stadiums truly become a destination point,” said Keith Lupton, the president of the Blue Crabs.
Lupton has been involved in the opening of several minor league stadiums around the country.
Where a stadium would be built in the Fredericksburg area is still unclear.
Hagan said, however, there are several possible spots that could work. Those include the Caroline County site of the State Fair of Virginia, land along Centreport Parkway in Stafford, the area near Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center and a stretch along Celebrate Virginia South in Fredericksburg.
The organizers are hoping land, possibly along the I-95 corridor between Stafford and Caroline counties, will be donated for the stadium.
Officials say they envision a family-friendly stadium that would seat about 5,000 people.
Clark Leming and Austin Harris, with Leming and Healy P.C., a land-use law firm, attended Thursday’s game to learn more about the project. on behalf of their clients — many area developers.
“The Fredericksburg area needs a baseball team and we need to do what we can to bring one here,” Leming said.
Hagan said the group has received lots of serious offers from area businesses wanting to get involved in the project. since plans were made public last month.
The next step is developing a budget, Hagan said.
Regency Furniture Stadium, where the Blue Crabs play, cost about $27 million and was funded by the state of Maryland, Charles County and the team itself.
The county owns the stadium outright.
That model is not likely to be used for a possible Fredericksburg stadium since no financial support is expected from the state.
Greg Cockherham, a senior executive with Community Bank of Tri-County, was on hand Thursday night and spoke to officials about his company’s involvement with the Waldorf park.
He said they have one of the suites at the stadium and bring about a thousand clients to the park each year.
He said speaking with 18 people over three to four hours at a game is more valuable than meeting with a handful of executives for a day on the golf course.
The Waldorf stadium has 16 25-person suites as well as a tented picnic pavilion can hold up to can hold up to 500 people. The Legends Club hosts up to 175 people.
Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413
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CHAT TRANSCRIPT: Bob Hagan and Matt Kelly, two officials involved in the discussions, answered readers’ questions in a live chat on fredericksburg.com last month. SEE THE TRANSCRIPT