Blue Crabs' Starting Season Stalls

By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, which were scheduled to begin minor league baseball play in the 2007 season, will not play until 2008 because of ongoing stadium construction delays, team officials said yesterday.

Plans for fast-growing Southern Maryland's first professional sports team have stalled because officials have been unable to obtain bids for the stadium that don't exceed their $21 million budget.

"The hope is that we'll start [construction] in the spring of next year, and then the stadium will be finished and we'll begin play in 2008," said Peter Kirk, chairman of Maryland Baseball LLC, the team's owner.

Team officials had hoped to finish construction by summer so that the Blue Crabs could play in the 2007 season. Even without a stadium, the team yesterday was selling tickets for the 2007 season on its Web site, with prices as high as $595 for dugout seats.

Fans who placed deposits for season tickets can either receive refunds or have their tickets transferred to the 2008 season, Kirk said.

The 4,500-seat stadium to be built in Waldorf has been billed as state-of-the-art, featuring a carousel and corporate skyboxes. Its design includes sloping red roofs reminiscent of the region's historical tobacco barns.

Officials from Charles County government, the state and the team's owner -- who have agreed to split construction costs equally -- have hired a private firm to find ways to cut construction costs.

But the stadium's amenities and basic design will remain, said Melvin C. Beall Jr., the county's acting planning and growth management director.

"All of the changes are anticipated to be changes that the public would not necessarily even notice or recognize," Beall said.

The Blue Crabs are to play in the Atlantic League, which includes seven other teams in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company