Stadium

Fredericksburg's new stadium will have a manual scorebox where fans can sit when it opens in April.

Fredericksburg’s new multi-use stadium will feature a unique nod to the early days of baseball when it opens next season.

In addition to 30- by 50-foot high-definition video scoreboard, it will have a manual scoreboard box.

“What we’re doing is what nobody has done before. There’s going to be seating in front of the scoreboard, and the folks who rent the box for that game are going to put the numbers up themselves,” Seth Silber told city officials, area business owners and others attending the Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority’s breakfast meeting Tuesday at the Courtyard by Marriott Fredericksburg Historic District.

It will also be at field level and have waitress service, added his father, Art Silber. “It’s a really unique opportunity.”

The manual scoreboard box, which is a sponsorship opportunity, was among a number of interesting features that the Silbers outlined for the stadium that they, along with Art Silber’s daughter, Lani Silber Weiss, are building to relocate their Potomac Nationals team in Celebrate Virginia South in Fredericksburg.

Plans include putting seats for fans behind home plate. The press box, which is traditionally in that spot at most baseball stadiums, will be along the third base line.

“Fans come first,” Seth Silber said.

The Silber family is also going to incorporate an idea they got from the Chicago Dogs’ stadium in Rosemont, Ill. It’s the left field batting cage entertainment box, which will be available for rent. As the name implies, it will be under the left field wall next to the team’s batting cages.

“So during the game, 40 to 50 people can have a dinner buffet, and then they get to do batting practice during the game,” Seth Silber said. “It’s a really great, unique idea and another sponsorship possibility.”

In another twist, plans for the stadium place the home dugout on the third-base side, instead of the traditional position on the first-base side.

“The clubhouse’s facilities are out beyond the left field corner. There’s going to be a large building out there that is going to house both the home and away clubhouses, and we wanted our players to have the shorter walk from the clubhouse,” Silber said.

“What’s going to be great is, because they dress in the clubhouse to come to the dugout, they do have to walk down the baseline. They’re going to come by the fans. When the game’s over, they go out the same way. It’s kind of a nice feature.”

He’s been meeting with fans on weekends since the team has opened a store in the Executive Building at 601 Caroline St., and said that he keeps getting the same two questions. One is where the sun will set in relation to the stadium. It will be behind it, he said, so it won’t get in fans’ eyes as they watch the game.

The other question is whether the family has decided on the new name for the team, which they have said from the beginning will include Fredericksburg when it moves to the city next year. Silber revealed that they have made the pick, but kept mum about the full name.

“We are developing logos, uniforms and so forth. There are samples of hats being made in China right now that we have to approve,” Silber said. “Once that all is done, we will unveil that, hopefully in September, in a big event downtown.”

Fans have been signing up for tickets since Dec. 1, when membership opened for the team’s Founder’s Club. It gives them first pick at reserving full-season ticket plans, and the first four members got to pick their seats Sunday. Among them was John Ragsdale, who showed up at 2 a.m. that frigid December morning so he could be first in line. He and his wife, Wanda, chose seats just behind the home team on-deck circle.

So far, more than 500 people have joined the Founder’s Club, lining up to buy about 1,800 season tickets. The club is still open for membership, and fans can join at the team store or by email at fxbgfoundersclub@potomacnationals.com.

“Once we go through that, we’re going to offer half-season and partial-season plans,” Silber said. “I expect to have 2,000 or 2,100 full-season equivalent tickets sold, which nobody has done. The seating bowl is 4,000 [seats], with suites and the club and all the other things, it’s about 5,000. The stadium may be half sold out by December, which is incredible.”

He said that he’s had a blast getting to meet people and talk to them about where they want to sit. They include a father who came in with his 4- and 6-year-old sons who want to see their new home team play.

“Those kids are going to grow up with this,” Silber said. “I just can’t wait to see his sons in 10 years and hear all the memories they’ve had in the ballpark.”

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Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407 cjett@freelancestar.com

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