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Prince William Chamber: Don’t send stadium to referendum, keep negotiating

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce weighed into the effort to negotiate the construction of a new baseball stadium for the Potomac Nationals near Potomac Mills mall. 

The letter was sent by the Chamber to elected leaders on the Board of Supervisors.

Here’s a portion of the letter: 

“Given the recent deliberations over the proposed Potomac Nationals Stadium, we ask that you oppose sending the decision to a referendum and maintain your existing commitment to the Potomac Nationals and JBG Companies to make a determination on the project at the Board level. In the aforementioned FY18 budget letter, the Chamber specifically referenced the stadium and the importance of remaining cognizant of finite

In the aforementioned FY18 budget letter, the Chamber specifically referenced the stadium and the importance of remaining cognizant of finite taxpayer dollars. While we maintain that risk mitigation with regard to taxpayer dollars is important to consider with any decision made by the Board of County Supervisors, the Board also needs to remain cognizant of the private sector’s need for risk mitigation. Private sector negotiations with public entities do not occur in a vacuum.

The Chamber has serious concerns about the future negative economic development implications created through a volatile and unpredictable negotiating process. Attracting new investment to our community enables the Board of County Supervisors to continue to keep residential property taxes low and further its goal of providing a world-class education in classrooms across the County. The Board of County Supervisors should not renege on its prior commitments, especially not with regards to final decision-making processes, or it will jeopardize attracting and maintaining private sector investment in our community.

There is a tremendous economic opportunity in Prince William County but the private sector needs consistency and predictability to thrive. As the County proceeds with the Potomac Nationals stadium negotiations, the Chamber respectfully requests that the Board of County Supervisors take these factors into consideration.”

The proposed $35 million stadia will host up to 7,000 fans and would be built behind the existing Wegmans grocery store at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge. Under a proposed deal between team owner Art Silber and the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, the stadium lease would be the most expensive in Minor Leauge Baseball.

JBG Companies, owner of Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center, would charge a $450,000 a year lease fee for the seven-acre on which the stadium would be built. Taxpayers would be on the hook for the annual rent payment, while Silber said the team would cover the cost to build the stadium. 

The deal is guaranteed up to one year. Afterward, Minor Leauge Baseball could choose to relocate the team at its leisure. 

Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland said he would like to see the decision to enter into a lease agreement with JBG put to the voters in a referendum. If the referendum were to fail, Candland said the land could be used for a big box store — joining a host of others in the area — or a Top Golf location similar to one near Dulles Airport.

JBG maintains it wishes to develop a baseball stadium on the land to offer area residents a community amenity not found in other nearby shopping centers. Stonebridge is the only property outside the Capital Beltway owned by JBG. 

 

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