Washington Nationals A team interested in Fredericksburg
COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal
BY BILL FREEHLING / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Washington Nationals officials believe the city of Fredericksburg is within their protected area, and that any MLB-affiliated teams that aren’t part of the Nationals’ system would need their consent to operate in the city.
The majority owner of one of the Nationals’ Minor League affiliates thinks Fredericksburg has a lot of potential for baseball.
The territorial rules don’t apply to leagues that aren’t affiliated with Major League Baseball, such as the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which includes the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs team that Fredericksburg officials have visited as part of their pursuit of professional baseball. The Atlantic League is in expansion mode and could soon include new teams in Loudoun County and Virginia Beach.
Fredericksburg officials say they have also spoken with MLB-affiliated teams, though they haven’t said which ones.
On Monday, the Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority approved spending up to $18,000 on a study by Washington-based Brailsford & Dunlavey to evaluate the economic prospects of building a stadium in the city that could be used for professional baseball, concerts and other events. Celebrate Virginia South is considered the most likely site for the stadium, potentially even the 38 acres where the National Slavery Museum was once supposed to go. Initial plans call for a 4,000-seat stadium with additional lawn seating and various family-friendly amenities.
The rough cost estimate is $25 million, not including the land. Local officials have been evaluating how the facility would be financed.
The Washington Nationals have Single-A or higher Minor League affiliates in Syracuse, N.Y.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Woodbridge; and Hagerstown, Md. The Single-A Hagerstown Suns has been evaluating its options as it negotiates with the Hagerstown government over a desired new stadium.
The team has expressed interest in relocating to Winchester, which is also debating whether to build a new stadium. Asked by email whether the Suns might be interested in relocating to Fredericksburg, majority owner Bruce Quinn said the team is pursuing all options for a new stadium in Hagerstown.
But he also said that he sees a lot of potential for a team in Fredericksburg. “If the Fredericksburg City Council decides to build a stadium and invites us to participate in a public or closed session meeting we will be there,” Quinn wrote, adding that no such invitation has yet been received.
Among the positives Quinn cited about Fredericksburg are its history, large population and ability to retain a portion of the sales tax revenue generated at a stadium.
The Virginia General Assembly this year added Fredericksburg to the list of localities eligible to retain much of the sales tax revenue from a stadium. Winchester was added to the list last year.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405