- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 16, 2003

Two sites in Arlington have emerged as candidates for a Virginia-based ballpark.
The sites under consideration are the current location of a Costco store on South Fern Street and another parcel also near the Pentagon City Mall owned by the family of late Washington developer Morris Cafritz, according to baseball sources.
The Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority and a prospective bid group led by former telecommunications executive William Collins have kept their site deliberations private, fearing the backlash of organized public opposition. To that end, no considered site has been publicly announced, and at least three others also are being considered.
But the two Arlington sites show the commonwealth's predisposition toward a stadium located near the District, major highways and Metro. Several possible sites in western Fairfax and Loudoun counties have been scrapped because of geographical concerns.
"We are still looking at a handful of options," said Michael Frey, stadium authority chairman. "Nothing has been finalized. We're still trying to get a full handle on the sites still under consideration."
The authority has hired Dallas-based architecture and engineering firm HKS Inc. to assist with its site search. HKS also would design the ballpark should Virginia get a major league team.
The District, also pursuing a team, is working under a very different strategy for stadium sites. The city is considering four locations, all previously announced: the RFK Stadium property, a location just west of Union Station near Massachusetts Avenue NW, another north of Union Station near New York Avenue NW, and a spot near the District waterfront and Southeast Federal Center.
A fifth location near Mount Vernon Square was abandoned recently because of heavy citizen opposition and a projected cost of $542million. A public hearing, the third on baseball scheduled by District leaders since June, will be held early next month to talk further about site and financing options.
Both the Arlington sites being considered by Virginia baseball advocates are pricey and could involve the demolition of the Pentagon City mall. No specific cost figures have been determined. But given the land values of both sites deep into eight figures and current construction costs of MLB-grade stadiums, a final figure of more than $400million is likely.
The Costco site in particular long has been eyed for further development. A 2001 study by Arlington County pointed to the site as one possibility for a new conference center. A new study being conducted by the stadium authority will determine the feasibility of combining a ballpark with a conference center.
Both sites are very close to Reagan National Airport and likely would require the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration for construction. The FAA has blocked several stadium projects around the country located near airports, fearing pilot confusion between runway and stadium lights and interference with navigation systems.
Another costly site the current location of four apartment complexes on Arlington Boulevard in Rosslyn has been abandoned for cost reasons.
Government leaders from the District, Northern Virginia, and Portland, Ore., will meet with MLB's relocation committee next month in Phoenix to give formal presentations on their ability to support the Montreal Expos. The committee is leading the search for a new home for the MLB-owned and operated Expos.

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