Georgetown ponders building ballpark in Alexandria

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Georgetown ponders building ballpark in Alexandria
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Alexandria may be on deck as the home of Georgetown University baseball and softball in the not too distant future, complete with new ballpark to support the team.


City Councilman Frank Fannon announced last week that talks are underway with the Washington institution  to transform the Frank E. Mann field at Four Mile Run Park into a college ballpark. The current proposal has Georgetown designing and building a state-of-the-art baseball and softball complex for a multi-year lease of the citys fields.
    
The private-public partnership is something that Im an advocate for in the city, its a win-win for both organizations, Fannon said. These are the things we need to do because budgets are tight and the municipality doesnt have a lot of money to sink into the projects in this era. Were looking forward to working together with Georgetown in the next couple of years.
    
Presently, Alexandria is home to two 90-foot baseball fields, though the city will boast a third after converting a softball field in Boothe Park in the next several years, Fannon said. Once work there is finished, Georgetown could move in to the Frank E. Mann field sometime in 2014 or 2015, he said.
    
But the discussion is still early. Fannon expects about a years worth of public meetings and forums before anything is finalized. 
    
For their part, Georgetown indicated the move across state lines from Rockville the Hoyas current home to Alexandria are in the beginning stages. Lee Reed, Georgetowns director of intercollegiate athletics, said the university always explores ways to improve their student experience.
    
There are no specific plans, timetables or commitments to move forward at this time but we will continue to explore opportunities appropriately in order to best meet our needs, he said.
    
If and when Georgetowns boys of spring begin batting the ball around in Alexandria, their presence wont cause a shortage of playing fields, Fannon said. 
    
At the moment, Frank E. Mann field is home to the Alexandria Aces, the citys collegiate summer wooden bat team. Its too early to get excited, cautions Don Dinan, Aces chairman and chief executive officer, but the field likely would see some improvements if Georgetown made the city home.  
    
A college-level ballpark would feature a permanent concession stand and seat roughly 1,000 spectators, he said. From Dinans perspective, the only trouble would come in accommodating metal bats, which require pushing the outfield fences further back.    
    
Its a problem easily remedied and a new ballpark and a big name university program would draw baseball and softball fans to the city, Dinan said.
    
Even when more concrete plans come forward, Fannon expects little opposition from residents. There are few neighbors a new ballpark would burden, he said, but Fannon hopes to bring nearby residents onboard with the project.
    
This is something that I wanted to try to see if we can work out, he said. Weve got a great facility here and Georgetown plays up in Montgomery County and this would only be four or five miles away.

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