Minor League Team Is Coming to Charles County

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an eight-team independent minor league, has approved membership for a team in Southern Maryland, which will begin play in the 2007 season.

Construction on a planned $21 million complex in Waldorf will not begin until the state contributes one-third of the stadium's funding, half of which would come from the Maryland Stadium Authority. The item is on the agenda for the current Maryland General Assembly session, which runs through April. Remaining costs will be split equally between Maryland Baseball LLC, and Charles County.

Peter Kirk , chairman of Maryland Baseball LLC, said the Maryland Stadium Authority has just begun soliciting bids for the stadium's construction. Kirk said the stadium authority hopes to have a deal with a construction firm by April, allowing a stadium to open in the spring of 2007.

It has been more than three years since Maryland Baseball LLC, began negotiations with Charles County and the Maryland Stadium Authority to build a stadium in Southern Maryland. A site in Hughesville, considered the geographic center of tri-county Southern Maryland, was identified in December 2003, and a rendering of a proposed 4,500-seat stadium was unveiled publicly 10 months later.

But the proposal drew strong opposition from Hughesville residents, who said stadium construction and other complementary infrastructure would upset the rural charm of the town of 1,500.

Last February, the Charles County Board of Commissioners abandoned its plans for a stadium in Hughesville, and began to explore the Waldorf site. The board approved the 72-acre site last March, and, four months later, signed a 20-year lease for the property with Maryland Baseball.

Maryland Baseball has organized an event called Fanfest, to be held tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at North Point High School, which Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. , plans to attend. There, fans can put down deposits for season tickets, participate in a contest to name the team, and meet several former major leaguers, including Brook s Robinson , who is an adviser to Maryland Baseball.

-- Alan Goldenbach

© 2006 The Washington Post Company