From The City of Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg City Council has begun a process that could result in the construction of a privately financed multi-purpose stadium at Celebrate Virginia South and the relocation of the Potomac Nationals Minor League Baseball Club from Prince William County to Fredericksburg.
The construction of the multi-purpose stadium in Fredericksburg would represent an innovative approach to its building, financing and use by the community, detailed in a Letter of Intent (LOI) between the city and Potomac Baseball, LLC, an affiliate of the Silber family, which has owned the Potomac Nationals Club for decades. The non-binding LOI is available at FredericksburgBaseball.com. Fredericksburg City Council is scheduled to vote on it July 10. The LOI has come after almost a year of discussions between the city and club.
Passage of the LOI would trigger a 120-day study period for both the baseball club and the city. If a final agreement is reached, the club and the city will sign a definitive agreement that will guide their relations for the next 30 years.
According to the LOI under consideration, the club would plan, design, finance and build the stadium in Celebrate Virginia South. The club would then engage with the local community through extensive outreach and involvement, offer marketing products and services to the city, and make the stadium available for an array of city-run and third-party events. Total debt service to be paid by the club is projected to be approximately $2.5 million annually, plus operations and maintenance costs. Under this proposal, the city (likely through its Economic Development Authority) would make an annual payment of $1.05 million to the club for 30 years (with no escalation). The payment is projected to be offset through new tax revenue earned at the stadium and events revenue from non-game days.
• 5,000-seat multi-purpose stadium located in Celebrate Virginia South (development includes Wegmans, Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center and three hotels)
• New home of Potomac Nationals, affiliate of Washington Nationals
• During study period (120 days), the club or city cannot negotiate with other localities
• Targeted opening day for stadium: April 2020
• Stadium expected to cost approximately $35 million
• Multi-purpose stadium privately financed, designed, constructed, owned and maintained by the club, with a defined commitment by the city for 30 years
• No up-front financial contributions by Fredericksburg
• No city-borrowed money/bonds
• Best opportunity to bring Minor League Baseball and a multi-use stadium to Fredericksburg
• Fredericksburg to have use of multi-purpose stadium when games not being played
• As new home of Potomac Nationals, the city will get indirect economic development and tourism marketing from Minor League Baseball
The stadium’s design will enable it to be reconfigured into one rectangular sports field, accommodating soccer, field hockey, flag football, an ice rink, concerts and an array of events, including the Celebrate VA After Hours concert series, July 4th fireworks and other community events. The facility will also include meeting rooms, a restaurant, suites, party rooms and full catering services for family-friendly activities.
“Unlike most stadium projects, this deal, as outlined in the LOI, will not be built by Fredericksburg. Instead, the baseball club will finance, build and maintain the stadium. The city will be able to use the multi-purpose stadium for community events on non-baseball days for the next 30 years. This fulfills Council’s and the EDA’s goal of attracting a multi-purpose outdoor recreational venue, as outlined in the 2036 Vision Statement,” said Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw.
The team will employ full-time (about 20) and part-time (about 200) positions, including seasonal jobs for teenagers and seniors.
The city and club may jointly hire a suitable, experienced management firm or individual to market and coordinate the use of the stadium on non-game days. A similar management approach is already in place at Stafford County’s Jeff Rouse Swim & Sport Center.
The city has worked with two independent consultants—Brailsford & Dunlavey (which published two reports for the city in 2013) and Public Financial Management—to vet the proposed deal as well as the prospects for minor league baseball in Fredericksburg. The proposal will be further assessed during the study period.
Projections indicate that the city can cover its proposed commitment annually through proceeds generated by the stadium. The annual revenue would include:
• $700,000: Projected tax revenue generated at the stadium (property taxes, admissions, sales, meals, personal property and business license taxes)
• $250,000: Revenue generated through the use of stadium on non-game days
• $100,000: Silver Companies (Celebrate Virginia South developer) affiliate contribution to the city for project
The average game attendance is projected to be 4,100 people, generating approximately 1,367 vehicle trips. Originally designed as a tourism-focused development, Celebrate Virginia South already has six-lane roads built to handle even higher traffic volumes. Those roads have already handled traffic for the Celebrate VA After Hours summer concerts, which have attracted up to 7,000 attendees. Improvements are nearing completion at the nearby Interstate 95 Exit 130 interchange (Rt. 3 West). Finally, most minor league baseball games are played on nights and weekends—outside rush hour.
“Traffic is always one of our first concerns in any large economic development project, and locating it just off I-95 in Celebrate Virginia South lends itself quite well to this use because Celebrate was built to accommodate large tourism venues,” Mayor Greenlaw said.
Council will schedule a special-purpose public hearing or community input session on the proposal. In addition, there will be opportunities for public comment via email.
“City Council Members will be communicating with, and listening to, Fredericksburg residents, businesses, community groups and institutional partners. Council wants to make sure there is a broad base of support for this specific initiative,” Mayor Greenlaw said.
Art Silber, who has owned the club for decades and whose two adult children are heavily involved with its operation, was attracted to Fredericksburg for its prime location, growing population, outstanding sense of place and community, excellent demographics and business-friendly attitude.
“Fredericksburg is where my family wants to be for the next three decades and beyond,” Silber said. “This is a legacy project for us, and we can’t wait to get started. We look forward to introducing ourselves to and becoming an active part of the Fredericksburg community.”
To get more information and follow the progress on Fredericksburg’s possible multi-purpose stadium, visit http://FredericksburgBaseball.com.