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New Fredericksburg ballpark over budget; owners exploring options

Hagerstown SunsA new Fredericksburg (Va.) ballpark for the Hagerstown Suns (Low Class A; Sally League) is over budget after the first round of estimates, with a funding gap between $12 million and $18 million currently being examined.

Reps from Diamond Nation, which has been working on the privately financed ballpark plan with Suns owner Bruce Quinn, says the first round of cost estimates came in far above cost estimates and is pursuing two paths to address this: additional money from the city and some early value engineering on the ballpark. One of the issues with the approximately $29 million project, according to Diamond Nation officials, is that site preparation will cost much more than originally estimated, as the site will need extensive grading and water-retention construction.

Diamond Nation hasn’t actually closed on a purchase of the land proposed for the ballpark and will seek an extension to the sale. Meanwhile, city officials say they’ll explore local funding options:

Kelly said the city plans to request potential financial support from the state and “other options here locally,” such as establishing a special taxing district to help support the approximately $29 million project.

After Tuesday’s discussion, Kelly said he and another council member, as well as city staff, plan to sit down to decide how the city could close the gap, and then develop a proposal by next week to be made public prior to their next council meeting on Aug. 26.

“Aug. 26 will be D-Day,” he said. “While there is some trepidation about the steps we can be expected to cover … the general consensus of the council is that we want the project to move.”

The proposed ballpark complex would also include several youth-baseball field; the Diamond Nation business plan calls for plenty of youth tournaments in addition to minor-league baseball. The team has a lease at Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium through 2016.

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