League unveils plans for baseball team and stadium in Loudoun

By Caitlin Gibson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 26, 2010

The future of professional baseball in Loudoun County began to take shape Tuesday with the official introduction of the Loudoun Hounds, the newest member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and believed to be the county's first professional sports team.

The team name, logo and uniforms were presented by Bob Farren, president and chief executive of VIP Baseball, an organization created nine years ago to bring a professional baseball team to Loudoun. The introductory event at the 1757 Golf Club in Dulles featured Hall of Fame slugger and former Washington Senator Harmon Killebrew and was attended by local government and business leaders.

Farren said he was pleased at the community response.

"The enthusiastic support was just completely overwhelming," he said. "I've already had 30 applications for employment."

The staffing model for the franchise, Farren said, includes 40 to 50 full-time jobs and about 200 part-time jobs.

County Supervisor Lori L. Waters (R-Broad Run), who supported building a baseball stadium in her district, said she was especially pleased by the name of the team, which she described as a tribute to "Loudoun County's heritage and culture."

The Hounds was one of three possible candidates offered in a Name Your Team contest, culled from nearly 1,000 submissions, according to a statement by VIP Baseball. The winning name was submitted by 9-year-old Sterling resident Andrew Thede and received more than 60 percent of the public vote, the statement said.

Loudoun residents frequently feel division between the county's rural west and more developed east, Waters said. She hopes the team will help encourage unity, "thanks to an eastern stadium location and a sign of respect to western Loudoun's famed fox hunts."

The Loudoun Hounds will play at a 5,500-seat stadium at Kincora Village Center, a mixed-use office and retail complex to be built at routes 7 and 28. The development, which stirred controversy among residents who said they were concerned about overdevelopment and traffic, was green-lighted after two rezoning applications were approved by the county Board of Supervisors in July 2009 and July 2010.

Farren said that construction of the stadium is expected to begin next month and that the Hounds will play their first home game in May 2012. The team will play 144 games in a season, 72 of them at home, Farren said.

Attending the games will be affordable, he said: "Eighty percent of the tickets will be priced the same or less than the cost of a movie ticket at Regal Cinemas. The most expensive seat in the ballpark is only $25. Families are going to be able to go to this facility and have money in their wallet when they go home."

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is an independent organization with no major-league affiliation. In addition to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, which play in Waldorf, it has teams in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Farren said he has long been enamored with baseball and its ability to bring a community together.

"I grew up in Long Island and had the good fortune of spending much of my youth going to Yankee Stadium," Farren said. "I just got indoctrinated into the passion, the history, the nostalgia of baseball."

He moved to Loudoun 16 years ago.

Farren said that kids benefit from baseball and that the Loudoun Hounds will host clinics and seminars for youths.

He said he hopes that Loudoun's children will find the experience "as magical as it was for me."

The ballpark and team will be a showcase for Loudoun, Farren said. "I love living here, and this is a great way to have everybody have a nice, fun place to go."

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