City Council schedules Aug. 26 public hearing on potential Coastal Plain League team at Shepherd Stadium

COLONIAL HEIGHTS - The city of Colonial Heights and the ownership group of a Coastal Plain League baseball franchise are nearing completion of a lease agreement that would see the team play at Shepherd Stadium, according to city manager Douglas Smith and director of recreation and parks Craig Skalak, and a public hearing on the subject has been scheduled for later this month.

Smith updated councilors on the negotiations between the city and Collegiate Baseball Experience group, which is headed up by Chesterfield native Chris Martin of RISE Baseball, in Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

“Mr. Skalak and I have been in negotiations with the individual that has acquired the baseball franchise,” Smith told council. “We are very close to having that completed.”

Any deal that is struck would need to be approved in a public hearing, and council agreed on Aug. 26 as the date for the hearing and discussion on the subject, which could potentially result in a vote on the matter. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m.

“We’re down to discussing several provisions with them, maybe tweaking some language a little bit. I would hope in the next day or two, we have that all finalized,” Smith told council.

Following the meeting, Skalak, who did not speak during the session, said, “We’re very close - a few clauses, playing with some of the language. Again, I think we’ll be done by the next day or two.”

In a release, Martin said he was “blessed” to be working with the city. “All of our conversations conversations throughout this process have been great and I’m excited about the upcoming hearing and vote,” Martin said in the release.

Negotiations between the two sides have included talks of adding padding to the outfield walls, as well as extending the safety netting behind home plate at Shepherd Stadium.

“We’re not just building a team, but we’re building an experience so there’s going to be a lot of things for this community to get excited about,” Martin said in the release.

The Coastal Plain League is a collegiate, wood-bat, summer baseball league that plays a 52-game schedule from May through August. The 16-team league operates clubs in four states, including two teams in Virginia, in Martinsville and Hampton. CPL teams are also located in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, with 10 of the 16 teams located in North Carolina. Rosters for the teams are made up of college players from programs across the country.

Shepherd Stadium currently hosts the American Legion Post 284 Bucs, the BIB Tournament, the VISAA state baseball championships, as well as other baseball events, such as the barnstorming Piedmont Collegiate Baseball League. Skalak had previously stated that bringing a CPL team to the venue would not supplant any other regular tenant or event. The team would play 26 games there, plus any potential playoff games after the finish of the regular season. Shepherd Stadium would also be eligible for consideration for league All-Star games and other events.

By Jeff Milby, Sports Editor
Jeff Milby can be reached at jmilby@progress-index.com or 804-722-5151. Follow him on twitter @JeffMilby.