Talk of the potential Potomac Nationals stadium continues.
Members of the Woodbridge-Potomac Communities Civic Association recently met to discuss the proposed Potomac Nationals baseball stadium, and heard from individuals involved in the project.
The owner of the team Art Silber issued an ultimatum to the county, stating that if the $35 million stadium deal was not approved by July, the team would be moving elsewhere.
“Unless a new stadium is constructed for the 2019 season, the Silber family will have to sell the P-Nats to a new owner who will relocate the team,” stated a presentation given during the civic association meeting.
The new stadium would replace the existing location near the McCoart Government Building and would be built on a site at the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center, between Wegmans and Opitz Boulevard.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors has been meeting with and working with the team on terms for the potential stadium, signing a non-binding letter of intent back in March.
If approved, the county would be putting $7 million toward site work and building a commuter garage, and some additional funds for traffic improvements, according to Patrick Kirk, a lawyer and individual whose family owns a piece of the Potomac Nationals. JBG Companies will provide $14 million in land and site work, and the state will fund $34 million for the commuter garage, stated a presentation. The commuter garage would be used for commuters during the normal business week, and parking for stadium visitors for game time.
“Almost every other stadium that’s built in the country – a minor league stadium – there is significant public participation in the project…we think it’s a tremendous deal for the county,” said Kirk, continuing later by saying that the county would be able to use the stadium 183 days each year for their own events.
Kirk stated that Minor League Baseball is the impetus behind making the location swap and upgrades.
“This [existing] stadium was kind of outdated when it was built. It’s made out of metal. It doesn’t have a sufficient concession space. From a minor league perspective, it doesn’t have the facilities to support the development of the minor league players,” said Kirk.
In an attempt to address assertions from residents that the stadium should be rebuilt on the same site, Kirk explained how rehabbing the existing facility isn’t feasible, and that it would cost around $20 million to rebuild there, including costs to tear down the existing structures.
“A stadium at that location cannot generate the money to pay the cost of that [$20 million rebuild]. At the facility that we’re hoping to build…because it’s right off [Interstate] 95, because it’s visible from 95, because it’s next to this incredible shopping center…we believe we’re gonna have the traffic…so that we can generate enough money to pay for the stadium ourselves,” said Kirk.
Concerns have also been brought up about the situation the county and residents could be placed in if the Potomac Nationals were unable to pay their annual payment to the county, as the county would be handling debt service for the project, but Kirk stated he was confident that the team would be able to pay.
Showing meeting attendees project plans, Kirk spoke about the changes that will be made compared to the existing stadium.
“A minor league stadium today is a mini major league stadium. It has all the amenities and all the comforts…the seats that we’re gonna have are going to be the same seats that you sit in at Nationals Park,” said Kirk.
According to Kirk, there will also be improved design features, a kid’s play area, and 6,000 seats in the new stadium.
During his presentation, Kirk made a point to highlight the work the Potomac Nationals has done in the community, talking about the students the stadium has employed, the tickets they’ve donated, and the community events they’ve hosted over the years.
It’s unclear what will happen next with the project.
Supervisor Pete Candland has called for the decision to be left up to a referendum, where Prince William County residents would be able to vote for the project to move forward or not. Candland called for a vote to call for a referendum at the April board meeting, but the measure died in a 4-4 vote. Candland will bring it up again in tomorrow’s board meeting.
JBG’s Senior Vice President of Development Tom Sebastian made his concerns on a referendum known, stating “A vote to go for the referendum is a vote to kill the project”.