The Virginia Beach City Council unanimously approved a land lease for a new privately financed Atlantic League ballpark, set to open in 2015.
The plan from Virginia Beach Professional Baseball LLC calls for a $40-million, 5,000-seat ballpark and sports complex. Piper Jaffray is lined up to issue $43.7 million in bonds; according to the proposal presented to the city, the bonds would be privately financed and not count against city debt. The city would pay $7.3 million for street improvements in the ballpark area and lease the land for the ballpark and baseball complex.
“We have a great partnership with the city and have had enthusiastic response from the public,” said VBPB Chairman Jas Short. “Virginia Beach is the largest city in the United States to have never had professional baseball, and we are proud to be bringing it here.”
VBPB Vice-President/General Manager Joe Pinto announced the first step will be to engage the public in a “Name the Team” contest.
“The community will name the team. We will reach out to everyone in Virginia Beach within the next couple weeks to begin a contest to name Virginia Beach’s first pro baseball team,” said Pinto, who brings an extensive background of almost 20 years in minor league baseball and has experience ranging from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia.
Joe Pinto served as General Manager for Jupiter Stadium, LTD in Florida. He managed a shared Spring Training/Minor League/Rehabilitation Complex for Major League Baseball franchises the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. The complex comprised of a main stadium and 13 regulation baseball fields, hosting over 170 professional baseball games and over 100 additional events each year. He also has served as General Manager for the Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers in Pennsylvania when they began as an expansion franchise.
The ballpark will be joined by 13 tournament fields to attract tournaments from around the country and an additional four fields donated to Virginia Beach to complete the Princess Anne Athletic Complex for community use.
“The ballpark design will be state of the art, focused on family entertainment and the community,” said VPBP President/COO Clay Dills. “A 360 degree concourse will have kids play areas, group party areas, an outfield berm, luxury suites and restaurant/lounge overlooking the ballfield.”
There is already pro baseball in the Hampton Roads area in the form of the Norfolk Tides (Class AAA; International League) and summer-collegiate ball in the form of the Peninsula Pilots (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League).
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