A day after a local investor was brought into the mix, the Fredericksburg (Va.) City Council voted to approve the broad outlines of a Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League) ballpark deal — but an attempt to buy the land fell short.
The broad outlines of the plan: a group that includes the Sun ownership, Diamond Nation ownership and local car dealer Ron Rosner would build the $29-million sports complex that would include a new Suns ballpark, five practice fields and support facilities. The city would build a $7 million parking lot and set up some tax incentives to bring additional revenue to the ownership group.
That plan, broadly outlined, was approved by the City Council last night. But there are plenty of moving parts to the deal that are still being negotiated. The 38-acre ballpark site is still tied up in court proceedings, and an attempt to buy it for $1.5 million out of Spotsylvania Circuit Court was rebuffed, leaving the city and the team owners to continue negotiations to buy the property. Also, the nature of any tax breaks still needs to be finalized, along with an assessment of the project’s economic impact: Diamond Nation estimates a $4 million impact in sales, meals and lodging tax revenues; the city’s estimate is closer to $2 million. That’s a huge gap in impact and, by extension, any possible tax rebates.
So while the local press hails a unanimous vote supporting the concept of a new ballpark as a huge milestone, it’s really not. The devil is always in the details when it comes to ballpark development, and some major details — like land acquisition and taxpayer support — still need to be finalized.
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