By CHRIS MARKHAM
For more than a century, baseball has been labeled as America’s pastime, proving to be one of the most popular and loved sports among kids and adults alike. In the past, however, the city of Fredericksburg has never had a baseball team to support and call their own.
That is poised to change soon, and residents of the Fredericksburg area will be able to enjoy the beloved sport at a much higher level.
The city of Fredericksburg is in the closing stages of sealing a deal to become the newest home of the Hagerstown Suns, a Class A minor league baseball team affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The team is currently located in Hagerstown, Maryland and competes in the South Atlantic League.
Last week, on Tuesday, Sept. 23, a big step was taken toward the settlement of this plan, and a revised version of the original proposal was unanimously approved by the Fredericksburg City Council. Before then, the deal was in a virtual standstill, and it seemed as though the project was destined for further delays.
In the revised proposal, the partners offered to fully finance the price of designing and building the stadium and training facilities for the team. The city is standing by its original agreement, where it would cover the cost of the parking lot, an estimated $10 million, and offer a variety of tax incentives.
Another factor in the new life of the project is the efforts brought forth by Diamond Nation, which operates a baseball and softball training and tournament facility in the New Jersey area. Diamond Nation offered to finance the cost of the 4,750 seat stadium and surrounding facilities under the condition that the city pays for the increased cost of the parking lot.
The estimated cost of the complex, which was originally $29 million, has ballooned to $46 million, causing most of the delays in the project as the partners have had to find other means of financing the complex, which is to be constructed in the Celebrate Virginia area.
The Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn believes that the complex will be the “biggest and most unique baseball softball entertainment and training complex” on the east coast.
The next step is for the baseball partners to gather the necessary finances for the project. The revised proposal gives the baseball partners one year to obtain the necessary finances.
Talks of the relocation have been in circulation since 2012, when the Washington Nationals made it aware to the Suns that their current stadium was no longer up to the Major League standards, but progress has been delayed due to questions of funding and conflicts between the two sides.
Due to the delays in the project, the Suns are hoping to have the team playing in Fredericksburg by the 2017 season, two years later than originally expected.