Parents, athletes worry about youth athletic complex being sold in Manassas

The Manassas City Council will vote to potentially sell 18-acres of land to a multi-billion-dollar company.

However, Prince William county parents fear that would leave nearly 2,000 young athletes with no place to play baseball and softball.

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Greater Manassas Baseball and Softball League (GMBL) parents want to make sure they are part of this process and that their kids still have a place to play the sports they love.

However, Mayor Michelle Davis-Young and City Manager Pat Pete want to make it clear that moving forward with this would not eliminate baseball.

"My son played there. I love that field. It’s great, it’s wonderful. Times change, needs change, and we have to keep up," said Davis-Young.

"There is no decision that council is going to make that’s going to eliminate children playing baseball in this community. Council is working on a variety of options on how to make that work. Our biggest issue is if we want to do a baseball complex – we don’t have the 50 acres that it would take to actually do that in the city so we might partner with someone to help that," said Pate.

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 E.G Smith Fields has been the home of the Greater Manassas Baseball and Softball League since the 1980’s after it was donated to them from IBM. There are a total of six baseball diamonds – all run and maintained by volunteers. The nonprofit organization has two seasons in the spring and fall with nearly 2,000 young athletes both boys and girls who range from 4 to 18-years-old. The City of Manassas will vote to tonight on whether or not to sell the 18-acre field for just over $14 million to Micron Technology.  The company’s plant is actually right next to the fields.

If this proposal moves forward, how quick would it come into fruition? Well, this would be a three-year process. Part of the proposal is the City of Manassas would still have two years to use the land after it is sold.

If the deal goes through, Dave Cogar, Babe Ruth Virginia District 8 Commissioner, just wants to make sure there is a place for children to continue to play baseball nearby. They say if would be tough for some families to travel far and continue playing if the baseball fields are moved outside of Manassas. Another problem is there are boundary issues with other baseball leagues so they might end up having to merge teams.

 "It’s hard to be the Great Manassas Baseball League if you’re not based out of Manassas or reasonably close to it," said Cogar.

However, he adds no matter what happens – he just wants to make sure the team and families have a say.

"We need to embrace the big picture. Change is inevitable in life and what we are trying to put together here is a community of kids with a like interest."

 FOX 5 did reach out to Micro Technology – the multi-billion-dollar company that wants to buy the fields for comment and have not heard back yet.

We will keep you up to date with the ultimate fate of the field.

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Below is the official, full statement from GMBL:

"The Greater Manassas Baseball and Softball League certainly recognizes the inherent value of the property where the E.G. Smith Complex is located and that as the owners of that property, they reserve the right to sell it. The projected sale will generate $14M for the City and we understand that it may frankly be irresponsible for the city not to take advantage of the opportunity to maximize that potential.

 At the same time, we also understand the value that we as a volunteer organization provide to the community. GMBL has a long year history as a Manassas institution, dating back to 1957. With four Hall of Fame representatives in the Babe Ruth Hall of Fame and a long history as one of the premier programs in the State of Virginia and the Southeast Region, we are widely recognized for the service we provide to the youth of our area, regardless of skill level, ability to pay or any other factors that may limit the opportunities of the children in other organizations.

The E.G. Smith Complex is the home base and the heart of our organization. For years, the conversation has been that if or when the complex might be sold that a new facility of equal quality would be provided. Recent comments have implied that as no longer the case. We feel very strongly that if the sale goes through that a portion of the proceeds needs to be directed towards a replacement facility of similar quality so that we can continue to allow a fun and healthy outlet for the kids to participate in the competition, team work and personal development that baseball and softball help to build.

Our desire is simply to have a seat at the table and be engaged as a valued partner in the discussions of a new home for the league where we will continue to be allowed to provide the service to the community that we have been providing for the last 65 years. We want to be provided the opportunity to continue to give the children of the area a safe and enticing place to play where they can continue to develop friendships and life skills that they will retain going forward into adulthood and encourage a spirit of volunteerism as we have in the past. Hopefully, the city sees our value and contributions to the young people of the community in the same light and importance that they see those of other civic or community ventures."