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Va. city considering multiuse stadium

report says Suns might have interest in move

Suns owner says he has 'not had any conversations' with Fredericksburg officials, but is quoted he sees a lot of potential in that city

April 15, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

An economic impact study evaluating the prospect of building a multiuse stadium in Fredericksburg, Va., is in the works, an official there confirmed Monday.

The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority last week approved spending up to $18,000 for a market study that analyzes potential attendance and gate receipts for a facility that could be used for professional baseball and other events, according to Richard Tremblay, assistant director for economic development in Fredericksburg.

“There’s been discussion about a potential multiuse baseball stadium in the city for about six months, but this is the first that the EDA has become directly involved,” he said.

Tremblay said the study is expected to be completed in the next six weeks, or around mid-May. He said the study does not consider any particular professional baseball team and just looks at the feasibility of a club as the primary user of a stadium.

“It’s something that the community has had some interest in for quite some time,” Tremblay said of attracting professional baseball to the area.

Tremblay said there’s been a lot of talk in the Northern Virginia region, in general, about constructing new stadiums to attract teams to the area.

Major League Baseball has rules on territorial rights where affiliated teams may locate, and Washington Nationals officials believe Fredericksburg is within its protected area, according to a story published in a Fredericksburg newspaper.

The story in The Free Lance-Star also states that one of the Nationals’ minor league affiliates may have an interest in relocating to Fredericksburg, referring to the Hagerstown Suns.

Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn is quoted in the story saying the team is pursuing all options for a new stadium in Hagerstown, but sees a lot of potential for a team in Fredericksburg, like its history, large population and ability to retain a portion of the sales tax revenue generated at a stadium.

When contacted by email Monday, Quinn said he has not had any conversations with Fredericksburg city officials to date.

“Nothing new,” he said. “I have not had any conversations regarding scheduling anything with Fredericksburg City Council.”

However, Bob Carter, a committee member overseeing the study and treasurer of the EDA in Fredericksburg, said the agency is independent from city government.

Although members are appointed by the city council, EDA’s in Virginia are chartered organizations through the state and have the power to borrow money as well as lease buildings or land on their own, Carter said.

Carter said the study is not designated to look at any specific location. He said it focuses on constructing a stadium “somewhere within the City of Fredericksburg.” But if some type of development deal is struck, it would still need approval from the city council, he said.

Fredericksburg officials are estimating a new ballpark could cost about $25 million, not including land acquisition, The Free Lance-Star reported. The most likely site for the facility is in the Celebrate Virginia South development, according to officials.

With a growing population of approximately 27,000, Fredericksburg is located in the Interstate 95 corridor about 50 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

Winchester, Va., which also has considered building a stadium for the club, still stands as an option to relocate the low-level Class A affiliate of the Nationals, Quinn said recently.

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