Baseball for Northern Virginia? Healthy rivalry: Baltimore-D.C. region can support two franchises

October 02, 1995

It's no longer a pipe dream. The day when major league baseball is played in the state of Virginia may not be far off.

If it does happen, we say welcome! The Baltimore-Washington region remains two distinct entities, both large and prosperous enough to support their own baseball and football teams. It would be a sound rivalry.

A confluence of factors makes major league baseball more likely in Virginia. League owners would dearly love to punish the Orioles' Peter Angelos for his outspoken opposition to the league's hardline anti-union position in the long baseball strike. That strike, and fan resentment, threaten an $800 million loss.

Small-city teams have been pushed to the brink. Montreal, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Minnesota might not be able to stay put for long, given the exorbitant player salaries and their own lack of drawing power. Without a revenue-sharing plan or new stadiums, these clubs could be shopping for new homes.

Meanwhile, Northern Virginia has grown into an enticing locale. Baseball owners like the high-income demographics, the rapid growth in an already large metropolitan region.

Another club so close to Baltimore worries Mr. Angelos, since roughly 20 percent of the Orioles' customers come from the Washington area. But most of the Maryland residents in that region are likely to remain Bird fans. Still, the Orioles owner wants to enlarge his club's appeal in south-central Pennsylvania in case fans near D.C. switch allegiances. And there's always the possibility of a court suit.

Additionally, it might not be easy to find a stadium site. Northern Virginians already have rejected a football complex (Jack Kent Cooke), a race track (Joe De Francis) and an amusement park (Walt Disney Co.). Why would they be any less hostile to a baseball field drawing up to 50,000 fans 81 days a year? There is also a question of how a stadium would co-exist with one of the nation's most congested beltway and interstate networks.

Still, we wish Washington-area baseball fans seeking their own team the best. It was tragic when the Senators left the District of Columbia nearly 25 years ago. The D.C. region has prospered and expanded since then, making it a prime site for major league baseball -- just as Baltimore is now financially attractive and deserving of its own National Football League club. These two regions are strong enough to benefit from some healthy competition.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.