The driving force behind bringing minor league baseball to Loudoun County, Bob Farren, is out as head of VIP Sports & Entertainment, the group backing the proposed Loudoun Hounds baseball team and the Virginia Cavalry FC soccer team announced Wednesday.
It seems like another blow to the faltering momentum that Farren and VIP once had to build a new, 5,500-seat stadium at One Loudoun in Ashburn that would house both the Hounds and the Cavalry. The Hounds had been dealing with the Atlantic League, an established independent league with a mix of ex-major leaguers and veteran minor leaguers, in hopes of landing a franchise by next season. Farren succeeded early this year in getting Loudoun County to permit him to move the stadium site from the still-not-happening Kincora development on Route 28 over to the rapidly happening One Loudoun on Loudoun County Parkway. (One Loudoun now has a Fresh Market grocery and a Bar Louie restaurant to go with its Alamo Cinema Drafthouse, and real estate sales there seem healthy.)
But when the stadium fell behind schedule, the Atlantic League moved on, at least for 2014 and released its team schedules without the Hounds. The Hounds held their first “Fan Fest” in 2011 and had hoped to begin play in 2012, and then 2013. On Wednesday, VIP issued a statement saying that Farren had voluntarily stepped down as chairman and chief executive.
“Bob asked the Board of Managers to take an active role in bringing Edelman Financial Field [the new stadium] to fruition and additional functions,” the statement said. “Bob will remain a Board Member, investor and will now hold the title of ‘Founder.'”
VIP, which stands for Virginia Investment Partnership, announced that Mark Stavish, a former executive vice president at America Online and founder of Evergreen Partners business consulting firm in Leesburg, would take over as chairman and CEO.
David D’Onofrio, the spokesman for VIP and the Hounds, said Farren was not forced out but that “this was the direction the board of managers [of VIP] wanted to take.” He declined to elaborate, saying only, “It just seemed like the right timing for all involved.”
D’Onofrio did not have any updates on the construction of Edelman Financial Field or the status of the Cavalry, who had hoped to play in 2014 even without a stadium. He said that in terms of building the stadium, VIP remained “fully committed to get us in that direction.” As of my last drive-by on Sunday, there appears to be site work going on there but nothing yet resembling the foundation of a stadium.
On the team’s Facebook page, one fan commented on the announcement: “GET ON WITH IT for goodness sake I want a baseball team in place before I’m too old to attend… and I’m already 73!”