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Stadium owners hire internationally known architectural firm

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COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal

HKS Sports and Entertainment Group, which has been hired to design the Fredericksburg baseball stadium, designed Coolray Field, home of the AAA Gwinnett Braves.

For Comparison

HKS Sports and Entertainment Group, which has been hired to design a stadium in Fredericksburg, designed Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Coolray Field:

It is home of the Gwinnett Braves, the AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. The minor league Braves moved from Richmond to the Atlanta area for the start of the 2009 season.

The 10,427-capacity stadium was built on a 44-acre site in nine months at a cost of $64 million. It has approximately 7,500 box seats and 20 suites, including a 40-person “party suite” and a 100-person “super suite.” It also has lawn seating where people can picnic while watching a game.

The stadium also has an area for children’s rides and can host birthday parties and other children’s activities.

Coolray is a Georgia heating, air conditioning and plumbing company that bought the naming rights.

Rosner Auto Group stadium:

It would be the new home to the Hagerstown Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Suns applied in October to relocate. The team will be renamed.

The Fredericksburg stadium is to be built on 38 acres at an estimated cost of $29 million.

It is to have 4,750 seats. The goal is to have it ready in time for the 2015 season, which begins in April.

It also will include about five artificial turf fields for youth and amateur baseball and softball camps and tournaments, operating an estimated nine months of the year.

Ron Rosner, owner of Rosner Automotive Group, is a minority partner in the stadium project. His company purchased stadium naming rights, though the exact name has not been decided.

—Pamela Gould

BY PAMELA GOULD

THE FREE LANCE–STAR

They designed Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the new home of the Indianapolis Colts, and this year received the award for the best new baseball stadium in the country.

Now, the award-winning architects of HKS Inc., have been hired to build the stadium in Fredericksburg that will be home to the minor league baseball team currently known as the Hagerstown Suns.

The facility will also provide a venue for Diamond Nation, a New Jersey-based company that runs amateur baseball and softball camps and tournaments throughout most of the year.

Mike Drye, project manager with HKS Sports and Entertainment Group, is overseeing the design from his Cary Street office in downtown Richmond and said his staff is excited to be involved with the Fredericksburg project.

“It’s rare that we get to work so close to home,” he said. “When it’s that close to home, it’s that much more important to you and we want our ballpark in Virginia to be one of the best in the nation.”

The most recent minor league stadium his group designed was Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Ga., the home stadium for the Gwinnett Braves, the AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.

That $64 million stadium was built in nine months, opening in April 2009. It has a capacity of 10,427 including stadium seats, suites and a general admission lawn area where people can picnic while watching games.

Architects in another office designed Regions Field in Birmingham, Ala., which is home to the AA minor league Barons. That stadium was chosen by Baseball parks.com as ballpark of the year.

Minor league baseball must approve architectural firms hired to design stadiums for its games, and HKS Inc. has a lot of experience with the league, said Keith Dilgard, president of Diamond Nation.

HKS also comes highly recommended by the Washington Nationals, he said.

The Suns are a Class A affiliate of the Nationals and hope to relocate from Maryland to Fredericksburg in time for the start of the 2015 season.

The team filed its relocation application in October and is in the process of evaluating the site where it hopes to build.

After lengthy negotiations, a deal was reached on Oct. 21 for the stadium partners to buy the 38 acres in Celebrate Virginia South where former Gov. Doug Wilder had hoped to build the U.S. National Slavery Museum.

City Treasurer G.M. “Jim” Haney gave the parties 150 days to finalize the agreement. He’s involved 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 site borders Interstate 95’s southbound lanes and overlooks the Rappahannock River.

The deal is expected to be finalized by late March if the land is suitable for the project.

For more than 30 days, engineers have been on site evaluating the property to be sure it will work for the stadium facility, Dilgard said this week.

He expects a report from the civil engineer today.

The next step will be to begin grading the property.

Coolray field is the home of the Gwinnett Braves, the AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.

“I can assure you we’re working very hard on all fronts,” Dilgard said. “We’re moving right along.”

Suns’ principal owner Bruce Quinn and Diamond Nation are the primary partners in the Fredericksburg venture. Ron Rosner, founder of the Fredericksburg-based Rosner Automotive Group, is also investing in the project. His company is purchasing stadium naming rights.

The partners are also working with engineers from the Richmond-based Timmons Group, which also has experience with sports facilities.

Timmons is doing the site work, including environmental review and geotechnical analysis, Dilgard said.

“The engineering information will determine what gets built where,” he said.

One issue to be determined is where to locate a city-owned parking lot with 1,800 spaces. The city is buying about 16 acres for the lot, which will cost a maximum of $8 million, including development.

The stadium project, estimated at $29 million, is being built with private funds. Fredericksburg is providing an array of tax reimbursements to the partners to help cover the debt service on the complex.

The stadium is planned as a 4,750-seat facility with about five artificial turf fields for the youth and amateur baseball and softball camps and tournaments.

Drye said HKS has begun talking with the stadium partners and has received preliminary information.

The first step is determining exactly what the team wants including the exact number of seats, the number of suites, batting cages and other amenities the team envisions, Drye said.

Once he has a list, he said his group will begin design work, taking into account what makes the most sense for the team, Diamond Nation and the city of Fredericksburg.

Last month, Quinn told City Manager Bev Cameron the stadium partners have been approved for financing and are hiring a company to begin work in January on creating a logo, mascot and new name for the Suns. They plan to avoid names such as the Generals or Nationals and will let the public participate in choosing from among three names the design company suggests.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

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