Land purchased for ball field

Published 9:30 pm Monday, December 5, 2016

The Longwood University Real Estate Foundation (LUREF) has purchased more than 5.5 acres in downtown Farmville — the former Buffalo Shook Co. Inc. property and part of the former W.C. Newman Co. concrete plant on West Third Street — for $6.8 million to create a future Longwood University baseball stadium.

The transaction, recorded in November in the Prince Edward County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, lists the purchaser as Longwood Riverview LLC and the seller as LU Eight LLC.

“The (Longwood University) Master Plan cites this as the home of the future (Longwood University) baseball field and the acquisition was done to support the master plan’s goals,” said Louise Waller, executive director of capital planning and construction at Longwood, who confirmed the acquisition by LUREF.

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Two parcels were part of the transaction — one 1.419-acre tract and one 4.274-acre tract.

A baseball diamond in downtown Farmville is one of the central highlights of Longwood University’s new conceptual master plan.

The Longwood Board of Visitors has taken procedural steps to endorse the plan.

University officials believe a first-rate baseball facility could attract a professional minor-league team during the summer months to complement spring usage by the Longwood baseball team.

“The ideas about connecting the campus with downtown, and improving walkability and traffic flow — those are really conversation starters,” said Justin Pope, the chief of staff to Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV, in a previous interview. “Obviously those are things for Longwood and the town to think through together, as we already do. But we had these world-class urban planners at our disposal, and we told them: ‘Come up with some really creative ideas that would be worth considering with the community. Help us think big about what would really make this place even better.’”

In a previous interview, Farmville Mayor David Whitus called the ball fields downtown “a phenomenal idea. It is a long-range idea. Not only do you have to create the fields, but you have to attract a team.”

The fields and associated activity would change the dynamics of Farmville, Whitus said.

“It’ll bring people from a wide geographic area. It’s very exciting if they can bring that to fruition,” he said.

The project would also spur more business and economic growth, Whitus said.

“This could be a vital and used space five or six nights a week, six months of the year,” Pope said. ”People come, they go to a game, they go get a cup of coffee before or afterwards, they go to a restaurant on Main Street before or afterwards. There’s just so many communities … where the experience of downtown baseball has really galvanized redevelopment.”

“This field could be in use by our teams (and) by minor league teams almost 10 out of 12 months out of the year. There could be this constant hum of activity downtown, which can be a really neat thing,” Reveley said.

Construction of the baseball stadium could hinge on interest from minor league teams, Reveley said.