The Prince William Board of County Supervisors received four suggestions for the future of Pfitzner Stadium after the Potomac Nationals minor league baseball team leaves the aging field for a new home in Fredericksburg.
Ideas include redeveloping the 34-year-old stadium and the larger property surrounding it as a mixed-use development with recreational, housing and retail space.
After 33 years of leasing the stadium from the county, the P-Nats, a high Class-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, inked a deal with Fredericksburg to relocate to a new $35 million stadium at Celebrate Virginia South, off Interstate 95 near Central Park.
Potomac Nationals' owner Art Silber plans to open the new stadium as early as April 2020, though the team’s lease in Prince William doesn’t expire until after the 2020 season.
Last fall, Prince William County asked for ideas from potential private partners on the best uses for the 7-acre Pfitzner Stadium and the surrounding 65-acre property the county owns, with a particular eye for sport and recreational opportunities that would appeal to residents and attract tourists. The property also has a BMX track and three softball fields used by adult leagues.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PFITZNER
The stadium is nearing the end of its useful life, according to the county. The county could get rid of the metal stands and outfield, and keep the field for kids to play on, said Corey Stewart, the board’s at-large chair.
A new stadium and sports tourism attractions could be funded through a proposed county bond referendum this November, or it could be a privately funded project altogether.
The board will look into the information provided to the county, said Stewart, while pointing to plans for a bond referendum in November that could finance mobility, park and other capital projects.
“Obviously what we’d like to do is work with the private sector in order to improve the quality and hold down the cost to taxpayers,” Stewart said.
Pfitzner Stadium is “not a great spot” for an athletic team, because it is tucked away from Prince William Parkway, Stewart said.
“If we get another pro baseball team, we should get a new location — because a pro baseball team needs visibility and you can’t get it back there,” he said.
Supervisor Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan, said she agrees that the county should seek out a professional baseball team and find another location for a stadium.
Anderson, whose district includes the stadium and surrounding property, envisions the property staying focused on sports and recreational activity. She thinks it’s not suitable necessarily for retail and housing development, because there is not enough road access. “From my perspective, I would like to see it remain mostly sports oriented,” she said.
The board is considering the pitches for the Pfitzner site and has not yet made a decision whether to partner with any of the companies, said Jason Grant, the county spokesman.
As far as the requests for sports opportunities at the stadium, Anderson said the responses don’t excite her. She said she does not expect to request more information from the respondents.
“For me, I would like to see maybe a combination of some of these things we received, but none of the four [responses] strikes me as the absolute right answers right now,” Anderson said.
SPORTS TOURISM IN PRINCE WILLIAM
One idea would redevelop the stadium into a mixed-use development with housing, retail and recreation. DCS Design — along with Peterson Companies, Toll Brothers and Good Works — submitted an idea that includes the stadium in a development that would have multiple housing options, including for those over the age of 55.
DCS Design also suggested selling some of the property for private development, with the revenue going toward recreational improvements to the stadium.
Utah-based Victus Advisors outlined a three-phase approach for the county that would study the sports tourism market and facility opportunities, review the financial feasibility and economic impact, and then determine management of the facility.
Victus Advisors provided similar services related to market research, economic analysis, financial planning and developing an operations plan similar to the Virginia Beach Sports Center, a $60-million, 200,000-square-foot facility set to open in 2020.
Another company, Complete Game, headed by Paul Colangelo, Mike Colangelo and Shawn Camp, proposed an indoor baseball and softball complex for youth baseball, adult softball leagues and college summer teams.
Safe at Home suggested the county could build a new stadium and a new playground with space to host festivals throughout the year. The company also suggested that pieces of the county’s property near the stadium could be sold for retail development and the county could start a sports commission to recruit events and raise funds.
The county received an unsolicited proposal from a company that wants to partner with the county to construct and operate an indoor event and recreation facility on land in the county, west of Manassas, according to the company's proposal.
Eastern Sports Management has proposed to the county to enter a public-private partnership to build and operate a sports complex that would have four basketball courts, an indoor track, a performance training center, a kid's play structure area, party rooms and a full kitchen with dining area.