A top official for the Fredericksburg Nationals said the construction of the team’s new home is on schedule, and that he is confident the venue will be ready for the 2020 season.
The parent Nationals’ high Single-A affiliate - formerly the Potomac Nationals or P-Nats - is moving to Fredericksburg, Va., from its previous home in Woodbridge, Va. The club began playing in Woodbridge in 1984 as the Prince William Pirates and now moves south with the dreams of a state-of-the-art stadium soon becoming reality.
The team opens its season April 9 with a road game in Kinston, N.C., against the Down East Wood Ducks.
The FredNats broke ground on the site for the new ballpark on Feb. 24, 2019. Executive vice present and general manager Nick Hall said the stadium footprint has been set for months and the exterior walls and seating area are well under construction.
“The seating bowl should actually be finished by the end of next week,” Hall said. “We are pretty excited for that. They are plugging along. We are picking out door frames as early as this week. They are definitely ahead of schedule right now. It is something we are really excited for.”
The Falls Church-based L.F. Jennings Inc. heads the construction, under the direction of Peter Kirk. Kirk has helped to build more than a dozen minor league stadiums, and he and the contractors “all have experience of building baseball stadiums pretty quickly,” Hall said. The weather has also cooperated.
Hall said ticket sales for the upcoming season have been “fantastic.” A few weeks ago the FredNats announced that they are 80 percent of the way to their season-ticket goal. Mini-plans, which are their half-season and 15-game plans, are also now available.
The stadium project will cost between $35 million and $40 million, all privately funded by Potomac Baseball, LLC, headed by the Art Silber family. The ballpark will hold 5,000, with 4,000 in the seating bowl. Hall said it will include a 25-foot-by-60-foot jumbotron in left field. The left-field wall will have 165 feet of LED lights, and the stadium will also have an LED ribbon board on the second deck on the suite level, and LED monitors throughout the ballpark.
“The stadium is going to be immaculate,” Hall said. “It’s going to be a state-of-the-art, up-to-date stadium, which is something that we are really, really excited for.”
Hall said the current name of the stadium is the Fredericksburg National BallPark, but club officials are looking into selling naming rights for the venue.
The FredNats begin the season on a 14-game road swing before their scheduled home opener April 23 against the Frederick Keys. Because of all the games on the road in April, the team is scheduled to play 20 games at home in May. Hall confirmed the team retains a lease at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge through 2021, but said the FredNats will play there only in the event of an unforeseen emergency.
“We are home for almost the entire month of May, which really plays in our favor too,” Hall said. “Because with only three home games in April, that gives everybody in Fredericksburg in that first month a chance to pretty much come (to see a game).”
Hall said he believes that the roads to and from the new stadium will be able to handle the traffic.
“No concerns of the egress or digress from the stadium,” he said. “We do have over 1,300 parking spots right here at our facility. That doesn’t include when we get into overflow parking. We should be able to comfortably (handle) anybody for every single event. That’s not something we are worried about, either.”
Hall said the construction team has assured him the facility will be ready for baseball in late April. The city is pumped up to see Carolina League baseball live and in person, he added.
“The community has shown such incredible support for us,” Hall said. “We will put single-game ticket sales on sale in March. Everybody from A to Z is telling us right now that we are playing at home April 23 right here in Fredericksburg. They have all the incentives in the world to hit that as well.
“We have no doubt that baseball is going to be happening right here in Fredericksburg on April 23.”
For more information on construction updates and tickets, click here.