Eugene Thomas, the owner of the Alexandria Dukes, said yesterday the Carolina League baseball team will play the remainder of the current season and probably next year at its present field, Four Mile Run Park.
But Thomas said he is seeking bids from Prince George's County, Fairfax County and Prince William County for a new home park for the Dukes, probably beginning in 1985. He said it is possible he'll relocate the team before the 1984 season, depending on the offers he receives.
Thomas' comments followed a 4-3 vote by the Alexandria City Council Tuesday night against a proposal to build a $1 million ballpark for the Class A Dukes, who have played at Four Mile Run since the team was founded in 1978.
That vote followed several years of on-again, off-again debate over whether the city should commit tax dollars for a playing site for a professional baseball team.
"It was an indication that the city simply does not want to continue trying to build a stadium for us," Thomas said.
The council did, however, vote to pick up the remainder of the Dukes' $5,000-a-year lease on Four Mile Run, which is owned by the Alexandria School Board.
The council also told Thomas that should he decide to continue using Four Mile Run for the 1984 season, he could deal directly with the council instead of the school board.
Four Mile Run Park, which is located behind an elementary school, has long been criticized by Dukes' management as inadequate. "It has no seats and no parking," said Thomas.
The Dukes' average home attendance is 1,100, Thomas said, and the largest crowd this year was 2,070. The total for last year was less than 50,000.
By contrast, the Hagerstown Suns, another Carolina League team, drew 165,000 last year, Thomas said.
Thomas said he will discuss any proposals he receives for a new playing site with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Dukes' parent major league club, before deciding on where to relocate the team, although he said the final decision on that subject is his.
He said he hopes to have a decision by early or mid-August.