Potomac Nationals (High A; Carolina League) owner Art Silber is urging Prince William County officials to reject a proposed referendum on a new ballpark, stating the team’s future could be at stake.
On June 20, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on supervisor Pete Candland’s proposal to place the project on a voter referendum for the November ballot. As it has previously been proposed, the ballpark would be constructed with $35 million raised by the county through Industrial Development Authority bonds, with the P-Nats paying back about $2.7 million in annual debt service over the course of 30 years.
Candland has expressed concerns that the team will not be able to meet its obligations, and has stated that voters should have a say in the ballpark’s financing. In advance of the June 20 vote, Silber is expressing concern that a referendum will stretch out the process and is warning that unless a ballpark plan is approved by July, the 2018 season could be the P-Nats’ last in Prince William County.
According to Silber, the longstanding facility issues with the team’s current home, Pfitzner Stadium, have not gone unnoticed by Minor League Baseball, which has granted waivers to allow the team to use the facility while pursuing a new ballpark. He also adds that the league is anticipating that the team will open a new ballpark for the 2019 season, and that it has told him that it will not offer the P-Nats additional extensions after July to remain at Pfitzner Stadium. More from InsideNOVA:
Jeff Lantz, a league spokesman, says he “cannot confirm or deny a deadline has been set.” But Silber says the league has made it very clear that they need an answer out of either the board’s meeting on July 11 or the session on July 18.
He says that’s because people in two other communities have already expressed interest in buying the team, and he would need to start the process of selling the team now so that the new owners could meet the league’s 2019 deadline.
Silber says MiLB president and CEO Pat O’Conner will attend the board’s June 20 meeting to help explain these issues, and Lantz confirmed that O’Conner will make the trip for the gathering.
But Candland says the board has yet to receive any “official communication” from MiLB that they need an answer by July. In fact, he finds it “highly surprising” that the league would demand an answer before a potential November referendum.
Supervisors took a vote in April on a previous referendum proposal that ended in a 4-4 tie, thus preventing the measure from passing.
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