With major construction work not underway, the opening of a new Fredericksburg ballpark for the relocating Potomac Nationals (High A; Carolina League) could ultimately be slated for 2021.
After years of searching for a new ballpark to replace the aging Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, VA, the P-Nats struck an agreement in 2018 with Fredericksburg, VA officials on a $35-million facility. Plans for the ballpark have called for it to open as early as the 2020 season, though there are some questions at this point about whether that will be achievable.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the ballpark’s site–next to the Fredericksburg Expo Center–in February, but further major construction work has yet to get underway. Although the beginning of the 2020 season has previously been cited as a goal for completing the facility, it turns out that the P-Nats’ agreement with Fredericksburg does provide some leeway on the construction schedule. According to Frederickburg’s Director of Economic Development and Tourism Bill Freehling, missing the 2020 opening would not put the P-Nats in violation of its deal with the city, which calls for the facility to be ready for public events by April 1, 2021. More from PotomacLocal.com:
“The agreement states that the City “shall have the right” to terminate if “the Stadium is not constructed in substantial accordance with the Plans and open to the public by April 1, 2021,” Freehling wrote.
The city’s financial obligation begins “on the first day of the fourth calendar month after the Commencement Date.” The Commencement Date is defined as “the date on which the Stadium has received its temporary occupancy permit and is actually available for city events,” according to Freehling. Payments will be made quarterly from that point.
The agreement between the city and the team gives the city exclusive use of the stadium for up to 183 days each year for such things as high school, college and amateur athletics, as well as concerts and other events.
For right now, the exact date of when the new ballpark could open remains to be seen and the P-Nats reportedly hope to launch construction early in the summer. Its agreement with the city, however, does give the organization some breathing room if it turns out that opening the ballpark for games in 2020 proves infeasible.
Under the P-Nats’ agreement with Fredericksburg, the ballpark will be privately financed by 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 ballpark will replace Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium, where the P-Nats franchise has played since 1984 and is currently operating under a lease that runs through the 2020 season.
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