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EDA will get stadium briefing

City Manager Bev Cameron will brief the Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority on the proposed incentive package for a stadium complex in Celebrate Virginia South on Monday.

That is the first official step of nearly a dozen that must be taken for the proposed complex to gain full city approval.

The City Council on Aug. 27 unanimously approved a proposal that would bring the minor league Hagerstown Suns to Fredericksburg to play in a privately financed multipurpose stadium. The project would also include a complex for amateur baseball and softball camps and tournaments that would be run by New Jersey-based Diamond Nation.

Cameron will present the entire economic incentive package for the deal to the EDA on Monday.

The package was crafted during negotiations between a city team composed of Cameron and councilmen Fred Howe and Brad Ellis, and the stadium partners. The primary partners are Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn and Diamond Nation executives Jack Cust and Keith Dilgard. Local auto dealer Ron Rosner last week announced that he is becoming a minority partner and has acquired stadium naming rights in a long-term deal.

The economic incentive package is estimated to be worth more than $22.6 million over 20 years. The city would return the tax revenue generated at the stadium complex to the team to help finance the facility. That puts the burden of solid performance on the team and Diamond Nation.

Cameron doesn’t expect the baseball proposal to be on the agenda for the council’s meeting next week.

As of Tuesday, however, Cameron expected two issues to be on the agenda for the council’s Sept. 24 meeting. That evening, the council could take a preliminary vote on a new tourism zone ordinance. A second vote would be needed before it could be enacted.

Also at the Sept. 24 meeting, the council is expected to consider a resolution related to a performance agreement with the stadium partners. Cameron would be looking for authority from the council to act on the next steps in finalizing the proposal.

On Sept. 25, the Planning Commission is expected to hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and the Capital Improvements Plan.

The city would need to amend those plans to finance a $7 million, 1,800-space parking lot it plans to build next to the stadium complex.

The Planning Commission could decide that night or at its Oct. 9 meeting whether to support the changes.

While the city pursues the steps needed to finalize the deal, the baseball investors are trying to acquire the preferred site for the complex: the 38-acre parcel that was once intended as the home for the U.S. National Slavery Museum. That project has long been stalled.

The baseball investors are scheduled to meet with representatives of Pei Partnership Architects next week to discuss a negotiated purchase of the land.

Pei, which designed the slavery museum and was never paid, has a judgment against the museum organization worth more than $6 million. The baseball investors hope to buy the land for $1.5 million, about $350,000 of which would go to the city to cover back taxes, with the remainder going to Pei.

The investors hope to convince Pei that the offer would net the architectural firm more money than it would get should the land be sold during a tax auction.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972



Below are next steps for the process of finalizing a deal for a multipurpose stadium in Fredericksburg.

Monday: City Manager Bev Cameron presents the economic incentive package for the proposal to the Economic Development Authority. The EDA meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. in a second-floor conference room of City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St. The meeting is open to the public.

Sept. 24: City Council gets its first look at a new tourism zone ordinance that requires two votes for passage. The council also will consider a resolution related to the performance agreement for the project.

Sept. 25: The Planning Commission holds a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvements Plan to accommodate a city-financed $7 million parking lot adjacent to the stadium.