Baseball in the Burg Becomes Rappahannock Baseball Initiative

by | Apr 29, 2015 | News

BaseballintheBurg.com announced Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, a change in the group’s Facebook page name and shift in direction for bringing baseball to the region.


“It’s been a roller coaster ride and, ultimately, a big mess so far. But please keep the faith baseball fans: RBI promises, we WILL bring professional baseball ‘here’ — to those who have liked this page during our ongoing and increasingly ambitious initiative. It’s just not going to be specifically located in the City of Fredericksburg. (Thanks for trying Councilman Kelly.)

“Hence, RBI is working to rebrand and change the name of our Facebook page (to the Rappahannock Baseball Initiative).

“While Fredericksburg is no longer contending to be the home of a new, multi-use stadium and minor league baseball team, RBI has not stopped working to bring professional baseball to the greater Spotsylvania, Stafford and Fredericksburg region.

“A new multi-use stadium and minor league baseball team located ANYWHERE in our region will benefit our ENTIRE region, even if the lucky home locality reaps most of the financial rewards.

“So what’s up now? We’re still at it — please stay tuned for a comprehensive update. RBI wants to give you the most current information at the most appropriate time. We are working hard to ensure this will occur between mid-February and mid-March.

“We want to thank you all, very sincerely, for providing your support for MiLB in Fredericksburg. We hope you will stick with us as we continue our efforts to make this initiative a reality near, next to, abutting, or in the otherwise general area of Fredericksburg, where we will ALL still have the proximity of a home team.

“RBI also, very strongly, supports efforts underway now in Fredericksburg to retain the Diamond Nation project for the city and Celebrate Virginia development near Wegmans. However, should the city fail again to land this economic development prospect, RBI will support the efforts of ANY regional government to add this first-class attraction to our region’s destination interests.”

Tom Byrnes is president and Bobby Duke is vice president of RBI.

Diamond Nation Project

The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority (EDA) voted three to one, with one abstention, on January 12 to fund City Council’s request for an independent fiscal impact analysis of a proposed Diamond Nation baseball complex.

“Diamond Nation and the Hagerstown Suns have gone separate ways, but the City of Fredericksburg is still pursuing a performance agreement with Diamond Nation,” Bill Freehling, assistant director for economic development told EDA board members.

“Diamond Nation is still interested in Fredericksburg, but they are also pursuing all options,” Freehling said. “They believe the National Slavery Museum land is the best site, but said incentives will be important.” Although a formal proposal was not available for EDA board members to review, Freehling said Diamond Nation wants to build six to eight baseball and softballs fields with an academy building, batting cages, a training area, a concession stand and parking on the National Slavery Museum land. The preliminary cost estimate, including the land, is $24 million.

EDA Chairman P. Christopher Hornung excused himself from the discussion and abstained from voting because he works for Silver Companies, the real estate group involved with the National Slavery Museum Land, which Diamond Nation is interested in purchasing. He stayed at the meeting so there would be a quorum.

There were two previous studies. The Brailsford & Dunlavey study evaluated the potential of a minor league baseball stadium, and a study by Dr. Stephen Fuller evaluated a joint Hagerstown Suns – Diamond Nation project. “The Fuller study estimates that Diamond Nation would attract almost 600,000 visitors a year, and produce about $2 million in annual tax revenue for the city in lodging, meals and sales taxes,” Freeling said. Questions have been raised about the Fuller study, Freeling said, including: “Would all that pending stay in the city? Would a lot of those visitors come from close enough that they wouldn’t need overnight stay?”

“City Council would like an independent study to help determine an appropriate performance-based incentive offer,” Freehling said.

The EDA approved $10,000 for a study and asked that it be completed within 60 days.

Related Stories

City Pledges Additional $2M, Accepts Diamond Nation Offer (9-24-14)

Councilman Kelly to Recommend City Continue Baseball Negotiations (9-22-14)

City Council Votes to Continue Baseball Stadium Negotiations (8-26-14)

Photos: City Council Hears from Diamond Nation, Citizens (8-26-14)

Do Not Jeopardize Fredericksburg’s Future Financial Capabilities. Say No to Baseball. (8-24-14)

City Considers Real Estate Tax Exemption for Diamond Nation Stadium Complex (8-22-14)

Diamond Nation Asks City for $18 Million More Towards Stadium (8-12-14)

Suns Staying Longer in Hagerstown (5-22-14)

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