Prince William supervisors provide funds to Potomac Nationals minor league stadium
The days of cramming 30-plus minor league baseball players and staff into a clubhouse with only four shower heads and one regular bathroom might be coming to an end as Prince William County officials plan to provide some funding to upgrade the aging Potomac Nationals stadium.
County supervisors unanimously approved $70,000 for improvements to G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium's clubhouses. The Prince William Park Authority and Potomac Nationals owner Art Silber will each provide $70,000, county officials said.
County officials were forced to make a funding decision after Minor League Baseball Director Mark Scialabba sent a letter to Major League Baseball officials, outlining what he called substandard conditions at a stadium that continues to "deteriorate." The stadium serves as the home for the Potomac Nations, the Washington Nationals' Class A minor league team.
"The stadium is old fashioned and not in a charming way," Prince William supervisor Martin E. Nohe, said, noting the stadium is in his district. "Today, the stadium is probably the least appealing one in the Carolina League...and the clubhouses are [not even as nice] as a middle school locker room."
In his letter to MLB officials, Scialabba said the visiting clubhouse is "unsanitary and extremely small." He said members from other teams in the Carolina League have complained over the years and it has become "an embarrassing topic of discussion," he said.
The home team clubhouse currently has only one toilet, two urinals and four shower heads to serve the 30-plus people who use it during the season. The whirlpool is located in the shower due to space constraints and there is no ice machine, forcing staff to go to the concession stand when ice is needed. The training quarters, he said in the letter, are often overflowing, "creating unorganized and unsanitary" conditions.
The $210,000 budgeted by county officials and team owner Silber will cover upgrades to the two clubhouses, but will not be enough to resolve other issues outlined in the letter. Scialabba said the playing surface at the stadium currently ranks as one of the worst in the Carolina League. The drainage system needs an upgrade, there are bare spots in right field and padding needs to be added to foul poles and the chain link fence to protect players, he said.
Silber and Scialabba had not returend calls by late Wednesday.
Nohe said Potomac Nationals officials have been looking to upgrade the stadium for years, approaching the board in 2007 with plans for a new $22.5 million stadium. County funding was not available at the time and some softball players resisted because they would have lost an adjacent field if the new stadium was built.
Last year, rumors began to surface that the team was looking to move to Loudoun County and be a part of a development set to be built along the future Metro line extension. Officials in Prince William and Loudoun said they haven't heard anything more about the move.
Prince William Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) said the board's action Tuesday had nothing to do with the county potentially losing the team to its neighbor. County officials continue to look for locations within Prince William to build a future stadium, he said.
"The real issue was that minor league baseball officials sent a warning that the conditions of the clubhouse had to be improved," he said. "These are renovations we have to do at some point and even if a new stadium is built here in the next couple of years, we will keep this facility and use it for something. This will be money that is well spent."
| February 9, 2011; 4:26 PM ET
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