The deteriorating field at the Potomac Nationals’ stadium will get the makeover it needs to meet Minor League Baseball standards, Prince William County officials say.
On Wednesday, the Prince William Park Authority board approved $150,000 for field improvements. The board’s decision came just one day after county supervisors unanimously approved up to $250,000 from the county’s capital reserve fund for field upgrades.
“For several years we’ve been rated the worst-performing field in the league,” team owner Art Silber said. “The situation is serious because it pertains to the safety of our players.”
The almost 30-year-old Pfitzner Stadium is owned and managed by the county and is home to the Potomac Nationals, the minor league affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Silber said they have gone through “a number of affiliates” because teams choose not to stay because of the stadium’s quality. The conditions have gotten so bad that this year Minor League Baseball Director Mark Scialabba sent a letter to Major League Baseball officials, outlining what he called substandard conditions at a stadium that continues to “deteriorate.”
The funding approved this week will fix the grade of the playing field between second base and the edge of the outfield, which is not in compliance with minor league standards, said Susan Roltsch, deputy county executive for Prince William.
“The grade has been an issue for some time, but there has been a lot of focus on it this year by major and minor league officials,” Roltsch said. “This is a county asset and needs to be maintained.”
Silber said several games were canceled this year because of poor field conditions. The Washington Nationals have also been put in a position where they question whether or not to have top prospects playing on the field, he said.
The funding county supervisors approved Tuesday is contingent upon Minor League Baseball officials confirming that the proposed elevation for the field is acceptable to play on through at least 2015, county officials said.
This is the second time this year county officials have put additional funds into the stadium. In February, the county approved $70,000 to upgrade the clubhouse. It, too, took a beating from Scialabba. In his letter to major league officials, he said the visiting clubhouse is “unsanitary and extremely small.”
Silber said the upgrades to the clubhouse are complete, but he is still searching for a new home for the team. Silber said he is actively pursuing a site along Interstate 95 in Prince William but could not release more information on exactly where. The proposed stadium, he said, would be privately funded.