By Supervisor Frank Principi, as seen in Prince William Times
Prince William County has been home to the Potomac Nationals for over three decades. Since April 19, 1984, millions of fans from across the region have attended games at Pfitzner Stadium.
We have watched Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon play without having to brave traffic or survive Metro on the way to D.C.
Throughout the years, my family and I have attended P-Nats games and enjoyed seeing these future MLB All-Star players up close and at a reasonable price. I believe this baseball team is an irreplaceable family-owned, small business that Prince William cannot afford to lose.
Pfitzner Stadium has been the home to the P-Nats since they moved here in 1984. This county-owned stadium no longer meets current Minor League Baseball standards and the league has informed the team that they must find a new home before the end of the 2018 season. The county and Potomac Town Center owners JBG Companies have been in negotiations to build a new stadium with the team. Resurrecting Pfitzner would be as expensive as moving to a more visible site on Interstate 95 at Potomac Town Center. The parties signed a non-binding letter of intent (LOI) to build a $35 million stadium and $32 million commuter parking garage in March to continue good-faith negotiations.
The county, in performing its due diligence, hired independent consultants to conduct objective analyses of the proposed stadium, commuter parking garage and traffic impacts. After reading each of these studies carefully, I have determined that, with road improvements, it is in our best interest to move forward with these projects. The benefits, which I will outline below, significantly outweigh the costs and the perceived risk.
Under the current arrangement, the county will authorize $35 million in Industrial Development Authority (IDA) bonds, which the P-Nats will pay back over a 30-year term. The land underneath the stadium will be owned by JBG, which will lease it for approximately $450,000 a year, a cost that will also be paid by the P-Nats. There is no cost to taxpayers for the construction, operations, maintenance, or debt payment of the baseball stadium.
Taxpayers are asked to underwrite the $7 million share of land-development costs for the commuter parking garage and approximately $5 million for off-site road improvements on Opitz Blvd. These off-site road improvements will help fix the currently failing intersections in the area.
The new state-of-the-art stadium will be owned by Prince William County, just like Pfitzner. On days that the P-Nats are not playing their 68 annual home games, the stadium venue will be available for use by community groups, concerts, soccer and football games, 10K runs, animal adoption events and more. Once the agreement is approved, the county will own a new baseball stadium and year-round venue, a 1,400 parking-space garage, and keep a Carolina League championship team.
The principal reason I support this deal is the economic benefit that Prince William will receive in return. Brailsford & Dunleavy, the subject-matter experts that conducted the analysis for the county states that the market surrounding Prince William is sufficient to support the P-Nats payments on their debt. In addition, the report states that over the next 30 years, the project will generate $175 million in economic output, directly benefitting other businesses in the area. The stadium is also projected to generate $224 million in wages, support 288 recurring jobs and generate $4.9 million in tax revenue.
Since the parties signed the LOI in March, outside groups have been less than honest with the facts. They have spread misinformation regarding the cost of the stadium, have claimed that taxpayers are footing the bill, and that the risks are too great. Whatever their motives, these individuals – not from around here – are intent on stopping it. I promise to be transparent and accountable by providing the facts as they become available on NewWoodbridge.org.
Over the next several months, there will be several more votes on this matter by the Prince William Board of Supervisors and the IDA. I invite all residents to contact supervisors to share their comments or concerns, attend board meetings and speak during citizens’ time. Please join me in keeping the P-Nats in Prince William County.