Northern Virginia lost its bid for a Major League Baseball team, but having a club in the area will stimulate interest in the sport, according to Fairfax County fans and sports league officials.
Brian Midkiff, president of Central Springfield Little League, said a D.C. team will be a good teaching tool for young ballplayers, who likely will attend games as a group or on their own.
"I think, absolutely, having baseball come back to Washington after 33 years is going to . . . be a great win-win situation," he said.
Added Bill Cervenak, chairman of Vienna Little League: "I think it will heighten interest in baseball."
The enthusiasm was shared by fans among the lunchtime crowd at the Vienna Inn, a place known for its hot dogs and cold beer.
Fans there last week said they were happy that the District finally had a baseball team and relieved that they wouldn't have to travel to Baltimore anymore for games.
Some said they were willing to give the Expos and their new owners a honeymoon of a year or two to become a good team before complaining about what losers they are.
Martin Holmes, 48, of Chantilly, a systems engineer, said, "How good the team will be all depends on the ownership. I hope we get a good owner. I think for the first year fans will go to the games because it is new. After that it depends on the product they put out on the field. I'm not going to watch a National League team that isn't very good just because they are in my backyard."
Danny Edwards, 48, who was at the bar waiting for lunch, said he expected fans to flock to see the new team regardless of how many games it wins just because people have been so starved for baseball. "I think they are very excited about getting a team, and they will go no matter how decent the owner and players are," he said.
In Loudoun County, which had sought to persuade baseball officials to abandon their preference for urban ballparks in favor of an ambitious, suburban vision, there were mixed feelings.
"They can put it on the moon as far as I'm concerned," said John Owens, a custodian who has lived in Loudoun for 66 years. "We got enough traffic and cars and stuff up here now."
But Mike Humphreys, a loan officer in Leesburg who travels to Baltimore's Camden Yards just once or twice a year, was hungry for a team nearby.
"A couple months ago, it was really looking like it was coming to Loudoun," Humphreys said. "I'm disappointed."