Potomac Nationals fans hope stadium will offer the best of the old with latest comforts

July 23, 2012

The Potomac Nationals, the Washington Nationals’ minor league affiliate, announced plans last week to build a multimillion-dollar stadium to replace the antiquated G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge.

For Louis Nigro, 45, who drove Thursday with Kim and Brenden Hise from Colonial Heights, nearly two hours away, to watch the P-Nats play the Lynchburg Hillcats, a new stadium would be fine as long as it keeps the family atmosphere.

Going to the District to watch the Washington Nationals “is awesome,” he said. “But this is irreplaceable.”

The crowd Thursday night was light, with a little more than 1,600 in attendance, but the fans were enthusiastic cheering on their hometown team and voting for a new mascot.

Where else do you have access to professional players, can sit 20 feet from the field and watch a game with your family for less than $60? Nigro asked. He said that he paid nearly $600 for a Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yard and that his seats weren’t very good.

Lamar Boone, 72, president of the Potomac Nationals Booster Club, and his wife, Dottie, drive from Catlett in Fauquier County every night to watch the P-Nats. They’ve been fans since 1994.

Does the team need a new stadium?

“From the player standpoint and food concessions and the ability to deliver, absolutely,” Boone said.

But, from his standpoint sitting mere feet from home base, they’ll have to wait and see whether the new stadium can deliver.

If the project goes forward, the 6,000- to 7,000-seat stadium would be part of the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center, just off Interstate 95 at Exit 156. Boone said he would like to see it somewhere less congested.

“But, I’m not spending the money,” he said.

Potomac Nationals owner Art Silber said he would be writing a check to fund the $25 million complex, which will feature an open concourse, a state-of-the-art video board and private suites.

P-Nat pitcher Neil Holland, 23, thinks the new site will be in a better location and will draw more fans.

Pfitzner, which has metal bleachers and one concession stand, averages about 3,000 fans per game, putting the attendance rate third from the bottom in the league.

“We have no complaints,” Holland said of the current stadium. “But the park could be nicer for the fans.”

And for the visiting teams. “They don’t like to come here,” he said.

“It would be good for the [Washington] Nationals and would really help our organization,” Holland said.

Agatha Loose, 19, has worked in the concession stand, which has no air-conditioning, five straight summers, serving simple baseball fare: hot dogs, chips and beer. “I’m really excited for [the stadium] to be in a better location, and I’m excited to see what Art has in mind for the concessions,” she said.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Art Vile, P-Nats fan assistant. “This stadium has gotten good use, but we’ve outgrown it.” The new stadium will be “the showcase for the Carolina League.”

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