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Loudoun fans eager for minor league baseball

Loudoun's baseball fans, collectively, say a minor-league team would provide a major boost in the county.

“It'll give this area something to do on weekends,” said an Ashburn resident who did not want to give his name but said he was a huge Boston Red Sox fan. “It sounds like a good league, and traffic shouldn't be a problem, contrary to what some people are saying.”

Josh and Laura Reed, of Purcellville, are happy with the the possibility of minor league baseball in the county.

“I'm glad, very glad," Josh Reed said. "I wish it was further west."

Laura Reed's 89-year old mother, Frances Edmondson, has been hoping for baseball in Loudoun for decades and was thrilled with last week's Board of Supervisors vote on the stadium.

On July 21, the county's supervisors approved the construction of a 5,500-seat stadium as part of the Kincora Village development near the intersection of routes 28 and 7.

For Robert Farren, of Waterford, managing partner of VIP Baseball, last week's vote made him feel like a kid again.

“I've felt the door was always closed shut for the last eight years,” said Farren, referring to the time he and other investors have spent trying to get professional baseball in Loudoun. “Now, that door is finally open.

This is a great opportunity for Loudoun County.” VIP Baseball is the group of investors trying to bring pro baseball to the county.

John Horshok, chairman of the Kincora Baseball Advisory Board, echoed Farren's sentiments.

“This shows [supervisors'] strong support for affordable family fun in the county,” he said. “Our hope and goals are to bring to life a thriving center for children of all ages through quality independent league baseball.”

The stadium is still a long way from reality, as construction is contingent on approval of the other parts of the mixed-use project, which would provide the needed funding.

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball hopes to field a team in Loudoun in 2011. Farren said the $30 million stadium can hit that timetable even if construction does not begin until least April 2010.

The supervisors may not vote on the entire Kincora project until late this year.

Farren estimated that a minor-league team would generate a minimum of $5 million to $6 million each year. Larry Rosenstrauch, director of the county's economic development commission, said no data on a financial impact is currently available.

“Usually, the applicant of the project provides the physical and financial impact,” Rosenstrauch said. “In rare cases, county government will undertake studies to determine those figures.”

Kincora officials have stated that, over a 20-year period, the total project would mean a $238 million impact to the county.

Peter Kirk, one of the Atlantic League's owners, said the Loudoun market is prime territory for a fan base.

“If 2011 doesn't happen, all bets are off and we have to start from scratch,” Kirk said. “This vote fits perfectly with our league's expansion process.

“We want to add four teams over the next five years. The VIP group has done a great job; now we want to keep that momentum going.”

Farren said his group has already been in negotiations with a future manager of the yet-to-be named Loudoun franchise.

“All I can tell you is that he's a former major leaguer and, when announced, his name will create quite a buzz,” he said. Farren said the Atlantic League is on a scale of “triple A hitting and double A pitching.”

Farren said ticket prices are expected to be between $4 and $10 per game. Weekday night games will start at 7:05 or 7:35 p.m., with night games likely on Saturdays and day games on Sundays.

“We expect to have 2,000 to 2,100 cars for a sellout,” said Farren, responding to some critics who said traffic will be a concern. “Heck, Costco in Sterling has 40,000 people on a weekend.”

Average salaries in the eight-team league range from $3,000 to $5,000 per month. Several former major leaguers, such as ex-Nationals Preston Wilson and John Halama, are included on current league rosters.

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