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P-Nats throw in the towel on naming rights sponsor before new stadium is built

The developer of Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center on Wednesday said the effort to build a new baseball stadium there stalled.

The new 6,000-seat stadium is slated to be built between Wegmans grocery store and Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge. The Potomac Nationals, Class A Advanced affiliate of the Washington Nationals, in 2012 promised to build the stadium and relocate operations there.

Since the announcement of the new stadium that was originally slated to open in 2015, the team has struggled to find a naming rights sponsor to help fund the $70 million stadium. Today, Potomac Nationals Owner Art Silber said he’s given up on trying to find such sponsor before the stadium is built.

“We were just trying to do something that was unrealistic,” said Silber. “No one has ever been successful in finding a naming rights sponsor before a stadium is built.”

Richard Lake, of the Roadside Development partnership that developed Stonebridge, said the idea to bring the Potomac Nationals to the shopping center was a conversation that began over advertising for the team and the shopping center. It evolved into a deal where Roadside gave “a piece of land that was a challenge to develop due to several topographies” to the ballclub.

The deal was sweetened when the Virginia Department of Transportation agreed to fund construction of a covered parking garage at the stadium that would be used by commuters during the day, and stadium-goers on nights and weekends. The covered parking structure was an easy sell in 2012, a year after Potomac Mills mall cut the number of parking spaces designated for commuter use by half the year prior.

“Setbacks have stalled the team…I still have hope it will happen,” said Lake, at a Prince William County Department of Economic Development forum at held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center was acquired by JBG Companies late last the year. The land on which the ballpark will sit was conveyed in the sale, said Silber.

“The new owners would like to reconfigure orientation of the ballpark, and they’re looking at what other components they would like to add to the ballpark,” said Silber. “I’m incredibly impressed with the skill of their land planning techniques.”

The planned size of the park will not change, nor will the amenities and activities that are planned for the park, such as box seating, a restaurant, and holding concerts on days when the team is away.

Silber said the team needs $35 million to build the stadium, and that a path to funding is in place. He did not say when a groundbreaking event would be held.

“We’re in no rush to do that…It would difficult to do it before the [20]18 season,” said Silber.

The Potomac Nationals on April 14 will return to their home of 32 years, at Richard G. Pfitzner Stadium for the team’s home opener against the Wilmington [Del.] Blue Rocks.

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