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Baseball stadium plan faces key hurdles this week
COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal
The proposal to build a multipurpose stadium in Fredericksburg could make strides this week as the issue comes for action in three different arenas.
City Council is scheduled to consider two issues Tuesday evening.
A Circuit Court judge could take action regarding the proposed site Wednesday morning.
And the city Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday night.
City Council members will consider a draft performance agreement and give preliminary approval to establishing a tourism zone for the project as part of an incentive package.
Owners of the Hagerstown, Md., Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, are partnering with owners of Diamond Nation to build a privately financed $29 million stadium in the Celebrate Virginia South development.
Diamond Nation operates a baseball and softball complex in New Jersey that hosts youth and amateur camps and tournaments.
The stadium complex in Fredericksburg would include a similar operation with five artificial turf fields for baseball and softball. It is expected to operate about nine months per year and increase tourism in the city.
The Suns ownership plans to relocate the minor league team from Maryland to Fredericksburg to start play in the new stadium in April 2015.
The team needs the draft performance agreement approved to submit to Major League Baseball as part of its relocation application, which is due next month.
On Aug. 27, the City Council unanimously approved the concept of the stadium proposal. However, at that point, several tasks remained to be resolved before the project is final.
One of them was support from the city’s Economic Development Authority, which it received on Sept. 9.
The draft performance agreement now before the council lays out the basics of the project, including most of the incentive package negotiated between city officials and the stadium partners.
City Manager Bev Cameron is scheduled to give an update on negotiations on the meals and lodging tax incentives at Tuesday’s work session.
The total incentive value of the performance agreement is estimated at $1,322,500 per year over the first 10 years of the project.
Cameron has said the project could generate $2 million in revenue annually off the stadium site, chiefly from an increase in meals, lodging and sales taxes.
The agreement calls for the city to buy land adjacent to the stadium site and build an 1,800-space parking lot for the 4,750-seat stadium. The stadium partners would maintain the lot and share parking revenues 50–50.
The parking lot is estimated to cost between $7 million and $8 million, a figure that covers the cost of the land and construction.
The performance agreement calls for the city to waive the business license tax, return meals and admissions taxes generated at the stadium, and waive the incremental real estate taxes on the site to the stadium partners for the first 20 years.
The city would also return revenues equal to 3.5 percent of the state sales tax generated at the site.
The city also would reimburse the partners for rescue and police service for home games up to $75,000 annually, and purchase $50,000 worth of marketing and advertising from the team for five years.
As part of the tourism-zone ordinance, the city would waive sewer, water and development fees for the project.
The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on amending the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvements Plan to allow for the parking lot.
The commissioners are not expected to act until next month unless there is no public comment. Once they act, those issues come before the City Council.
One of the keys to the project could be resolved in court on Wednesday. An 11 a.m. hearing is scheduled in Caroline Circuit Court where Judge Joseph T. Ellis is expected to rule on whether to begin proceedings to sell the 38 acres where the stadium partners hope to build.
That property was to have been the site of a U.S. National Slavery Museum proposed by former Gov. Doug Wilder. However, the museum was never built and owes the city more than $350,000 in back real estate taxes.
At a hearing last month, the stadium partners were prepared to buy the land for $1.5 million but a representative for Pei Partnership Architects would not move forward.
Pei has made a claim for unpaid bills for designing the museum.
Since the Aug. 27 hearing, the stadium partners, which now include Rosner Auto Group principal Ron Rosner, have been negotiating to buy the land.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
The proposal to build a privately financed multipurpose stadium in Fredericksburg is on the agenda of two government bodies and one court docket this week.
Tuesday, City Council will discuss the issue during its 5:30 p.m. work session and is slated to consider two actions at its 7:30 p.m., meeting in City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St.
Wednesday, 11 a.m. Circuit Judge Joseph T. Ellis may rule on whether the land sought for the stadium site—38 acres owned by the U.S. National Slavery Museum—should be auctioned for failure to pay its taxes.
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. The city Planning Commission holds a public hearing on proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvements Plan to address an 1,800-space parking lot to serve the stadium. Cost is estimated at $7 million to $8 million.