Fredericksburg, VA officials approved a new ballpark deal on Tuesday, clearing the way for the Potomac Nationals (High A; Carolina League) to arrive in the city as soon as 2020.
Discussions over a new ballpark in Fredericksburg had picked up in recent months, following a July 10 decision by the city council to approve a letter of intent with P-Nats ownership on plans for a new $35 million ballpark in the Celebrate Virginia South development. The 5,000-seat facility will be privately financed by P-Nats owner Art Silber and his family, with the city making an annual payment of $1.05 million to the team for 30 years as an anchor tenant. The city’s contribution is expected to be covered by taxes from the ballpark, and revenue generated from use of the facility on non-gamedays. The ballpark will be constructed in Celebrate Virginia South, on land owned by The Silver Cos., which would contribute $100,000 annually and move its Celebrate Virginia After Hours concert series to the facility.
Approval of the plan was granted on Tuesday, as the city council gave its okay to a development and shared use agreement with the team, along with related agreements, amendments, and ordinances. The ballpark’s completion is being targeted for Opening Day 2020. More from the Free-Lance Star:
Council member Billy Withers said that he expects that the city will not only raise the funds for its annual payments through tax revenues from the stadium and other measures, but exceed them.
“I want to especially thank the Silbers for bringing a deal that we can support so we don’t have to go through this again. You know, [Council member] Matt [Kelly] has been beating on our ears for six years or so. Thank you for bringing a deal to town that we could support so we won’t have to listen to this again,” he said, as the council and the audience burst into laughter.
Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw, who’d donned a Fredericksburg Baseball cap for the vote, asked Lani Silber Weiss, who is Art Silber’s daughter and president and the Potomac Nationals’ president and chief operating officer, if she wanted to say a few words.
Weiss got choked up as she thanked everyone for working tirelessly on the deal. “You are all making a dream come true for our family,” she said. “You truly are.”
Discussions with the P-Nats were not the first time that Fredericksburg has considered a new Minor League Baseball ballpark in recent years. The city was engaged in talks about a new ballpark for the Hagerstown Suns (Low A; Sally League) several years ago, but an agreement was never finalized.
As for the P-Nats, they have worked for years to replace Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, VA. Discussions with Prince William County officials about a new ballpark in Woodbridge took place as recently as the summer of 2017, only to stall when the two sides could not come to terms on an agreement. The franchise originally opened the ballpark in 1984 as the Prince William Pirates.
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