I read with interest about plans to build a minor league baseball stadium in Loudoun County last week.
The proposed 5,500-seat home for the future Loudoun Hounds would be a recreational anchor for the giant One Loudoun mixed-use development, a privately financed venue that would host some 72 baseball games a year, as well as an array of community events, concerts and festivals.
The team’s owner, VIP Sports & Entertainment, is also close to securing the rights to a minor league soccer team that would also use the field, according to staff writer Jonathan O’Connell’s recent report.
I’ve seen firsthand what a draw a facility like this can mean for a new city-in-the-suburbs. Last summer, during a vacation in South Carolina, I stopped to catch a minor league soccer game outside Charleston, in a planned community called Daniel Island. There, the Battery play in Blackbaud Stadium, a cozy 5,100-seat park that opened in 1999.
The place was buzzing with families the night I attended, and the competition was good. In fact, the soccer game took place at the same time as a tennis tournament across town in the 10,200-seat Family Circle Tennis Center; neither contest seemed to lack fans, and the town center’s cluster of restaurants appeared to be hopping with visitors.
The best complexes seem to be those that integrate their operations with the surrounding neighborhood, not put up walls. Look how Verizon Center helped spark new interest in Chinatown, and how Nationals Park is becoming a hub for the Navy Yard neighborhood.
Out where I live, in Columbia, we have Merriweather Post Pavilion, an outdoor concert amphitheater that hosts a season’s worth of first-rate shows. Star sightings are commonplace before and after events on the nearby lake front.
Some might complain about the noise and traffic, but a little hubbub can help turn a dot on the map into a place with a pulse.