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Financing found for new stadium

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The partners planning to build a $29 million baseball stadium in Fredericksburg have gotten approval for financing from two banks, though they are still negotiating the terms, City Manager Bev Cameron said Tuesday.

Cameron provided the Fredericksburg City Council an update on the project during a work session.

A partnership including the owners of the Hagerstown Suns and Diamond Nation plans to build a 4,750-seat stadium in Celebrate Virginia South.

Bruce Quinn, majority owner of the Suns, informed Cameron by email on Tuesday that his group has finalized a sales agreement with former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to buy the 38 acres where Wilder had planned to build the U.S. National Slavery Museum.

On Oct. 22, the stadium partners reached an agreement with Wilder and the museum’s largest creditor to buy the property. City Treasurer G.M. “Jim” Haney gave the parties 150 days to finalize the agreement.

Haney weighed in because the museum owes the city roughly $450,000 in back taxes and attorney fees. The city would receive that money as part of the land sale.

The Suns are a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. In October, the team applied with Minor League Baseball to relocate from Hagerstown, Md. That application is on hold pending resolution of the final details of an incentive package being worked out with the city, according to Quinn’s email.

The plan is for the team to relocate in time for the spring 2015 minor league season.

The proposal is to include the stadium where the Suns would play plus a facility where New Jersey-based Diamond Nation will operate amateur baseball and softball camps and tournaments.

The partners have started work on site feasibility including extensive geotechnical analysis and an environmental review, Cameron told the council.

They also have hired an architect and a civil engineer and have drafted a request for proposals to hire a construction manager to serve as general contractor.

The relocation application is currently being reviewed by professional baseball, Cameron said.

Cameron said his priority is to get things rolling with the city’s purchase of land for a parking facility adjacent to the stadium property. That has been delayed because of questions about the boundary lines of the 16-acre property, Cameron said.

Under the agreement with the stadium partners, the city would pay to build a ground-level, 1,800-space parking lot that would serve the stadium. The cost for the land and construction would be between $7 million and $8 million.

Ron Rosner, founder of Rosner Auto Group, is a minority investor in the project. That company is purchasing naming rights for the stadium.

Closing on the museum property awaits results of soil tests and engineering recommendations, Quinn told Cameron.

The stadium partners are hiring a company to begin work in January on creating a logo, mascot and new name for the Hagerstown Suns. They have decided to avoid names such as the Generals, Nationals and the like, Quinn said in his email.

Instead, the plan is to have the public participate in choosing from among three names the design company comes up with next year.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972