Fredericksburg City Council on Tuesday gave unanimous support for a plan to build a parking lot for a multipurpose stadium in Celebrate Virginia South.
The lot would cost a maximum of $8 million, including the cost of the land.
Before the vote, Councilman Fred Howe asked whether there were any environmental concerns about the lot and was told by Senior Planner Erik Nelson there could be some, “but nothing that couldn’t be readily handled.”
He said there could be minor issues with a stream and wetlands at either site under consideration.
On Monday, the partners planning to build a $29 million privately financed stadium complex announced they had reached agreement to buy the 38 acres where the U.S. National Slavery Museum was to have been built.
Owners of the Hagerstown Suns and Diamond Nation had been negotiating for weeks with museum founder and former Gov. Doug Wilder and Pei Partnership Architects, the chief museum creditor, to purchase the land. The baseball partners applied to professional baseball officials for permission to relocate to Fredericksburg with the expectation they might build on a site in Celebrate Virginia South where a Kalahari resort had once been planned.
The museum site, which overlooks Interstate 95, was the preferred location, council members Brad Ellis and Kerry Devine noted before the council meeting.
On Tuesday, City Treasurer Jim Haney postponed for 150 days the public auction of the museum land, which had been set for Oct. 31.
The slavery museum organization owes the city about $450,000 in back taxes and attorney’s fees. The city will get the money it is owed when the baseball investors buy the museum land.
The 150-day delay gives the baseball investors time to perform site-engineering work, finalize financing, and take care of the other details needed to start construction on the minor league baseball stadium and amateur baseball and softball complex.
Under the terms of the agreement reached Monday, Wilder could end up with 2 acres to build a small museum if he gets the project to the point of city approval for a site plan.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, members unanimously approved amending both the Comprehensive Plan and the Capital Improvements Plan to allow and build an 1,800-space, surface parking lot that would likely be built on a 16-acre parcel located beside the museum site.
The multipurpose stadium would seat 4,750 and host the Suns. The stadium complex would include about five artificial turf fields where Diamond Nation would host amateur baseball and softball tournaments, leagues and skills clinics about nine months of the year.
The city expects the minor league games to bring a paid attendance of 4,100 to 4,600 per game. The baseball and softball events at Diamond Nation are expected to draw as many as 230,000 people annually and account for 25,000 additional hotel room nights annually.
The Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, hope to begin playing in the stadium in 2015.
Local businessman Ron Rosner is a minority partner in the project. His Rosner Automotive Group is buying stadium naming rights.
Councilwoman Bea Paolucci said during Tuesday’s meeting that she wanted to be sure the stadium parking facility included sidewalks and bicycle racks.
One resident spoke during a public hearing on the issue, asking about the expected revenues from the parking lot and how long it will take to pay the $8 million debt.
Assistant City Manager Mark Whitley said details are still being worked out with the baseball partners but the plan is to split the revenues and that it could generate $150,000 annually, which would not cover the annual debt service.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972