potomac nationals stadium site

The Potomac Nationals are looking for a deal that will build then a new home at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.

Negotiations between Prince William County leaders and the Potomac Nationals to bring a new stadium to Woodbridge for the minor league baseball team seem in danger of falling apart.

The Board of County Supervisors originally planned to vote on a lease agreement for a $35 million replacement for Pfitzner Stadium at its July 18 meeting. But At-Large Chairman Corey Stewart has now pulled the matter from the agenda at the team’s request, as team owner Art Silber expressed reservations about the current terms of the deal.

“The deal is pretty close to dead,” Stewart said in an interview July 13. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the team takes off.”

Silber also issued a statement Thursday, saying he’s “saddened to report that the parties have been unable to come to an agreement on terms to build a new ballpark.”

“While we are open to discussing other options with the county, we are now required by Minor League Baseball to also explore other opportunities to obtain a new home that will comply with Major League Baseball standards for minor league teams,” Silber wrote.

Potomac Nationals owner wants stadium vote delay

Silber contends that those “other opportunities” include moving the team to another location in Northern Virginia, or selling it to an out-of-state buyer, potentially in North Carolina. Since last month, Silber’s argued that he’d need to show Minor League Baseball officials a signed deal before the end of July if he was to avoid the team somehow leaving Prince William.

The county seemed on course to take a vote ahead of that deadline, but by July 11, concerns about that timeline started to emerge. At Silber’s urging, Supervisor Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, tried unsuccessfully to delay consideration of the deal until September, but supervisors resoundingly rejected that attempt.

Now, the board is left without any consideration of the deal on a future agenda, leaving negotiations very much in limbo.

“To the extent possible, I’ll keep pushing on this, but it’s not a one-man band,” Stewart said. “Anything we do takes five votes, and we have three supervisors who are opposed to any public investment on the east end of the county.”

Indeed, Supervisors Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan, Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, and Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, have opposed the proposed deal for months now. They’ve largely cited concern about the deal’s risk for county taxpayers in their opposition, as the county would need to raise the money for the stadium’s construction using Industrial Development Authority bonds. The team would then be responsible for paying the county back over the course of a 30-year lease.

But Stewart dismisses their concerns as simple opposition to any construction on the county’s eastern end, citing previous dustups like the spat over the Colgan High School aquatics center as evidence that he’ll have little success convincing the three supervisors to support the stadium project going forward.

“I call them Pete and his repeats,” Stewart said. “At the end of the day, they’re just opposed to any investment on the east end. But it is possible that one or two other supervisors could support the deal in the future.”

But, in interviews, all three supervisors expressed their own frustrations with how the team and Stewart have managed this process. They believe Silber created a false deadline to convince the board to vote against Candland’s proposal to send the deal to a November bond referendum, and question the team’s motives in pushing off the July 18 vote.

“If they’re not ready, that’s their own fault,” Lawson said. “They do not have a justification for continuing this discussion...and I can’t help but question their word on this now.”

Anderson says she saw some “major things to still be negotiated” in the paperwork surrounding the deal, but she still felt ready to vote on it next week. Despite Stewart’s attacks, she says her main concerns surrounded issues like the team’s reluctance to establish a “reserve fund” up front that would cover one year of their roughly $2.7 million in lease payments to the county.

“The county staff’s doing their best to do what’s right for taxpayer, because there is a lot of taxpayer money involved here, no matter what Mr. Silber says,” Anderson said.

But Candland believes there aren’t necessarily intractable differences between the county and the P-Nats over the terms of the deal that have prompted all this uncertainty. Rather, he feels Stewart engineered this delay simply because he didn’t have five votes on the board to approve the deal (a reality Stewart acknowledges, though he pushes back against Candland’s other criticisms).

“The chairman is not against doing whatever he thinks he needs to do to get his desired outcome,” Candland said.

All parties involved declined to discuss what part of the deal has prompted this impasse, or if some recent change to its terms from when supervisors initially approved a letter of intent with the team back in March fueled this discord.

But, even with this latest setback, Principi remains generally optimistic that negotiations with the team aren’t finished quite yet.

“We’re actually making progress and narrowing the list of issues we need to work out,” Principi said. “Ideally, this would’ve been done by July, but we’re not there yet, so cooler heads have to prevail.”

(20) comments

Al-Alborn

Art Silber has been given some very bad advise. I am surprised the County Attorney let so many things wrong with this entire proposal (from a Constitutional and legal perspective) get this far. Neither the IDA Bond nor a Municipal Bond would pass muster because they both face the same legal hurdles. I doubt any Circuit Court Judge would approve the bond going forward with so many legal hurdles.

It’s a shame he wasted so much time. I feel sorry for the Silber family and for the many baseball fans who thought the issue was about baseball. If they had been properly informed, there might have been a different outcome. It has always been about the financing structure.

The answer is easy and obvious…. Delete the County’s obligation to be responsible for any default. In that case, an IDA Bond faces no legal hurdles. If Art Silber isn’t confident enough to guarantee the loan on the performance he and others have been touting for so long, the stadium deal deserves to fail.

That’s a shame.

icrazyhorse

Also the proposed location is too small and has bad topography that is 30 feet too low. It will cost millions to elevate the site by 30 feet, and it will still flood during a heavy rain. Just look at the picture and you can see the site is inappropriate.

ugh

Mr.Silber could have re-built Pfitzner-but as always wants us to pay for it.Even if the stadium was put at Stonebridge ,how would one get there?Dale Boulevard,Gideon,and Potomac Center Boulevard are all clogged at the time of day most games would be starting.

icrazyhorse

Yep, the proposed site will make traffic congestion even worse than it already is. Imagine how bad it would be to combine already bad I-95 evening rush hour with P-Nat traffic.

wilkinak

In a word - YAY!

insidebugs

Now we get Top Golf which will generate 10 times the traffic that the stadium would have, but we won't get any road improvements or the parking garage with the slug line. Woodbridge gets royally screwed again.

Haymarket2008

I’m all for some incentives here and there to draw businesses/amenities into the county. I’m also a fan of baseball.

What I’m not a fan of is a deal that results in the county paying millions of dollars upfront, hundreds of thousands annually, and leaving taxpayers holding the bag if the company defaults on its loans. Silber has already gone back on his word twice (to pay for this himself and to sell the team by the end of July).

We have plenty of more pressing needs in this county than to subsidize a minor league baseball team. I’d love to celebrate a nice new stadium for the Nationals, but Silber wanted to try to jump on our backs to get this done.

Capslock82

I can only assume that the people against this deal either 1. Donot live in Woodbridge or 2. Know absolutely nothing about gentrification. That being said, this is very disappointing. For starters, I was really looking forward to catching games here with the family. And more importantly, the business, development, and influx of money into the County. Economics 101: Person drives to an area. Person buys a product. Business meets supply and demands needs. Business grows. Competition enters. More persons frequent said businesses. Persons purchase homes in order to be close to said business. Local economy thrives, and area gentrifies and infrastructure developments are made to support more persons. Couple that with the fact PWC has ~400,000 people living it it, even if the P-Nats made $0 annually (which obviously wouldnt be the case) AND the parking garage made $0, consequently forcing the PWC taxpayers to help foot the bill $2.7 MIL annual rent, it would equate to about, a $6.75 per person annual increase to the existing taxes that you currently pay, a whopping 56 cents a month. Good job everyone, way to think this one out.

wilkinak

I live in Woodbridge, that's why I think this a lousy idea. I also work near Nat's Park and am familiar with the effects of stadium.

This team has almost no fans. This deal would not bring a new team to the area, just build new facilities for an old one. There will be a little enthusiam bump for a few years, but not much. A few who don't go to games now, may start attending. An equal number who attend at Pfitzner won't drive all the way to Stonebridge. I know several who quit going to Sport & Health when they moved from their old locations.

Second, stadium math never works. You are spouting the same spiel of every stadium supporter anywhere. There are multiple studies that prove you wrong. Nat's Park is almost 10 years old and it has not been a huge development driver. For the first 5 years, almost nothing was built down there. The apartment construction of the last couple years has resulted in more business & restaurants in that area.

The redevelopment of DC's SW waterfront is un-associated with the soccer stadium. and will have a bigger impact on SW than the new stadium.

If you want to the P-Nats to stay, start a GoFundMe page. You and the 2999 other fans can pay for it.

Capslock82

While i relocated to Lake Ridge in 2015, in 2011 i bought a Potomac Club Townhouse Blueprint across the street from Stonebridge. No Wegmans, No restaurants, just a vancant lot with a "Coming Soon" sign. Well its 6 years later and that property iIpurchased has gone up $100,000 in property value and im currently renting it for $650 more than my monthly mortgage. The point I'm trying to make is that business development, infrastructure, area modifications are the biggest drivers of property value increases and positive economic longevity. This stadium is a destination point. It will improve the local economy and drive additional business to migrate to the area. This is something that doesn't come around often.

wilkinak

It's not going to a big enough destination point to warrant the cost. Yes, your personal property value will go up. The rest of us - inclined plane around a cylinder.

ugh

Capslock82-1.I live in Dale City-2.I get gentrification.
Your math assumes assumes that all 400,000 + are taxpayers (200,000 at least are children).Secondly,in addition to the stadium and the garage ,the necessary costs of the changes to the Opitz Road interchange would all fall back on the PWC taxpayer.Thirdly, those changes would involve taking out thriving businesses.

ugh

Sorry mistyped at least 100,000 are children.

Tom Fitzpatrick

The overarching issue that this story touches upon is the fact that Chairman Stewart clearly makes - the Supervisors on the west end of the County are opposed to any government spending or investment that is not located in and directly benefitting their backyards.

For far too long, Candland has simultaneously portrayed himself as a "conservative" who decries tax and spending, while at the same time not standing in the way for egregious government waste and inappropriate developer support in his neck of the woods.

The west end of the County sees itself as the landed gentry, and the poor folks on the Eastern End as the slaves on the plantation. Unfortunately, we have not had representation within the Republican Party willing to stand up to Candland and his Repetes (great term, Corey), and the results have shown this, time and again.

While I am not certain that the stadium is the best use of taxpayer funds or large tracks of land at that location, or that the deal was crafted fairly for the taxpayer, ample evidence exists to support the assertions I make in the fight against redeveloping the Rt 1 corridor.

It is unfortunate that the Occoquan District once so ably represented by the late Michele McQuigg is now a pawn in Pete Candland's larger political plans. Not a surprise, since the meeting which determined who would represent the Occoquan District took place in Pete's house, with a small group of his associates, and not by community leaders in the Occoquan District.

It is long past time that Occoquan and Woodbridge voters unite and revolt against those who would enslave them on the plantations of the East, only to enrich the supposed masters on the West.

The first step is to expel the traitors in our midst, beginning with Supervisor Anderson.

wilkinak

I'm quite happy with Supervisor Anderson's vote. Michele McQuigg is dead; she's not coming back. Get over it.

BTW, redevelopment of Route 1 is a great idea. Clear cutting a swath of untouched land, while leaving a dozen decrepit strip malls alone isn't my idea of effective redevelopment. I doubt you'll be happy until every last tree on the last side of the county has been cut down.

Tom Fitzpatrick

Apparently, as far as the powers that be are concerned, she is. And as the bard said, "the good is oft interred with their bones." It is time for public servants, rather than self servants, to rise up and depose people who cannot bring themselves to identify themselves by anything more than a pseudonym and an anonymous post.

Of course, at least those anonymous quotes bring out how many truly feel, which is most often the exact opposite of what they say. Hence, the pseudonyms. Cowards.

Tom Fitzpatrick

Excuse me, but, did the Editors delete my comment?

Tom Fitzpatrick

As a member of Supervisor Anderson's Budget Committee, I asked her, and the PWC Budget Director in attendance, two simple yet extremely important questions.

One. How much tax revenue is generated in the Occoquan District?

Two, how much of the budget is spent in the Occoquan District? I clarified that this was for Capital and operational expenses applied to the Occoquan District, and NOT the salaries or costs associated with the County-wide government associated with the McCoart building and its satellites.

I was told, repeatedly, at that meeting and in correspondence with Supervisor Anderson's Chief of Staff, that such numbers simply do not exist, and could not and would not be provided.

Since this is a family forum, I won't call that what I would like to call it, or should call it. So, I will refer to it as "total nonsense." A big, steaming, stinking crock of "total nonsense."

From involvement with the PWC government and an engaged resident of the Occoquan District for over 30 years, I have seen these numbers in the past, with great granularity.

I want to know what we are paying the PWC government, and where that money is going, both through taxes, and debt.

If neither staff nor representatives can provide that information, we need new staff and representatives.

ugh

Tom--take your Meds

Tom Fitzpatrick

"Ugh." Is that your given name, how you self-identify, or, more likely, a description of your personal philosophy?

I want to know what I am paying, and what I am getting in return. Developers know that each and every time the BOCS's take a vote, and a "campaign contribution."

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