Deal Is Reached on Loudoun Minor League Team

By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 14, 2009

A group trying to bring minor league baseball to Loudoun County has reached a deal to get a Northern Virginia team but might face an obstacle in a wary Board of Supervisors.

VIP Baseball, a group run by Waterford businessman Robert Farren, reached a deal this week with the eight-team Atlantic League of Professional Baseball to create a franchise in Loudoun pending construction of a 5,500-seat stadium at routes 28 and 7 in Ashburn.

"There are still no places for family sports and entertainment in Loudoun County, until now," said Farren, who said the Kincora site was at the "demographic center" of the county. "We live in one of the most affluent places in the region and have no places to be entertained at the level we are trying to build."

The stadium would be built amid a massive, 314-acre office and retail development and would be completed by May 2011.

Residential housing consisting of 1,400 apartments and condominiums, a performing and cultural arts center, a fire-rescue station, a nature preserve, hotels and a YMCA facility have been proposed at the site, but plans are on hold as the development team is locked in a rezoning battle with the county. About $70 million in road improvements, additional affordable housing and 200 acres of parks and pedestrian crosswalks would be included.

Developers have been pushing forward with the office and baseball portions of the plan. An advisory board to support the baseball team, which includes Major League Baseball Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew and Brooks Robinson, was formed last week.

"It brings us one step closer to getting the ball team here," said Michael W. Scott, a managing member of Norton Scott, the Great Falls developer that is helping plan the Kincora project. "All indications are that we are moving in the right direction and the public is wildly enthusiastic about it."

But at a public hearing Monday to discuss the Kincora project, several opponents objected to the timing of the stadium application, which is ahead of a vote on the proposed rezoning of the larger property.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York (I) said that he supported the project but that other supervisors were uneasy about the timing of the ballpark application and its financing.

"I hope we're a little smart and we don't cut off our nose to spite our face," York said.

The application for the ballpark was sent to the board's transportation and land use committee for further review.

Several groups, including the Piedmont Environmental Council of Virginia, are opposing the project, citing increases in traffic and potential impacts on area taxes and on local streams and wildlife.

"Many of us love baseball, but this is not about whether a baseball stadium belongs in Loudoun," said Gem Bingol, the Loudoun County field officer for the environmental group. "It's about whether the proposed location makes sense for a stadium."

The item will come again for consideration June 22.

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