While the Fredericksburg Nationals (Single-A; Carolina League) have been a solid success at Virginia Credit Union Stadium, the biggest story may be the ballpark’s financial impact on the community.
It’s a cliche to say that new ballparks these days are designed to be more than just a baseball field–the term multi-use venue is frequently thrown about as well. In the case of Virginia Credit Union Stadium, though, the multi-use design is working as planned, with 200-250 events held annually at the ballpark, with staff dedicated to non-baseball events. The recent multi-day Babe Ruth World Series tournament was played at Virginia Credit Union Stadium. From the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star:
A dozen teams of 13- to 15-year-old players from across the country earned their way into the Babe Ruth World Series by winning local, state and regional tournaments. Two teams from Virginia made the field — one from Stafford (which hosted the tournament) and one from Lakeside….
Their impact on our economy was significant. According to Bill Freehling, Fredericksburg’s director of economic development and tourism, some 1,200 hotel rooms were occupied by participants over the course of the week (900 of those rooms in Fredericksburg). Families of course dined at local restaurants and shopped at local stores.
[Nick Hall, FredNats Executive Vice President/General Manager] says the facility was attractive to the Babe Ruth World Series because the “location is perfect. We have hotels almost in our parking lot. There’s shopping. Folks can walk to the stadium, and we can show off Fredericksburg.”
Events are not easy, but the rewards are big. When economists pooh-pooh the financial impacts of a new ballpark, they tend to downplay or, worse yet, totally ignore spending from outside the community on events like the Babe Ruth World Series. But the local hoteliers and restauranteurs don’t ignore the money coming in from out of town. Sports travel/sports tourism is big business (yes, we’ll be able to share many details with you on a daily basis once an upcoming project goes live), and tapping into that revenue stream should be a priority for anyone operating a venue large or small.
Photo courtesy Fredericksburg Nationals.