If they build it, will too many people come?
Loudoun County officials are voting Tuesday on a proposed 5,500-seat minor league baseball stadium, and traffic concerns have become a major concern. The debate raged on on Monday night.
"We need it. This is an opportunity. Don't mess it up," one Loudoun county resident warned the Board of Supervisors.
The main strike against the plan, opponents say, is the traffic at the already-crowded intersection of Routes 7 and 28. Developers are pitching a proposal to build a four-lane road to the stadium and offer shuttle buses to ease congestion.
Some supervisors are crying foul over the timing and financing of the ballpark and mixed-use community, which could feature a hotel, restaurants and a retail center. At least one environmental group cites a negative impact on streams, wildlife and taxes.
But supporters of the ballpark see nothing short of a grand slam.
Monday night, armed with pro-baseball bags and blue foam mitts, dozens of supporters filled the benches at the Board's public meeting. In the audience, Little Leaguers kept their baseball caps on and one fan wore his vintage Ripken jersey.
They also brought out a heavy hitter to push for the ballpark plan.
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Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson stepped up to the podium to point to the popularity of other minor league parks he has helped develop.
"I love all sports, but I think everyone here has a baseball memory more so than a football or basketball memory," Robinson said.
Robinson is a member of the Kincora Baseball Advisory Board of Directors, the driving force behind the effort to bring an Atlantic League (AL) franchise by the 2011 season. He is also in the ownership group of three AL teams in York, Lancaster, and Southern Maryland.
The legendary third baseman for the Orioles drew hearty laughter when he told the supervisors and the crowd, "The [minor league] baseball is better than the Nationals or Orioles, to tell you the truth."
The Loudoun resident who urged the supervisors not to "mess it up," said the site is ripe for development, and whether it's a building or a ballpark, traffic is inevitable. But he claims he has heard support from thousands of parents who say they "can't wait to take their kids somewhere."
Will they take them out to a minor league ball game? That's now in the hands of board members.
View an animated fly-over of the proposed ballpark by clicking here.