The much anticipated Capital One Park opened in early April, and the new open-air state-of-the-art baseball stadium on Route 123 in McLean near Tysons drew rave reviews and generated big crowds and much excitement from spectators, players and coaches.
“This is a special place everyone can enjoy we are hoping for a long time,” said Rob Hahne, Westfield High School’s head baseball coach and head of Northern Virginia Travel Baseball, who has been heavily involved in the development of the park and scheduling of games and events there.
The park opened with the Marymount University baseball team from Arlington playing games there March 31 and April 1, and eight high-school teams participating in some dozen spring-break-tournament contests April 1 through 5.
One of those teams was the Marshall Statesmen, who won two games on the new field.
“It’s great to be playing at a site like this,” Marshall coach Mike Noyes said. “The players are having fun.”
Marymount has more games scheduled at Capital One this season, which also will host a few other high-school games.
Fans flocked to the high-school games during spring break and packed the stands, as the parking lot remained full during the tournament.
“This area needs a place like this,” Madison baseball coach Mark Gjormand said.
A baseball design unique in Fairfax County, the 6.9 acre park and one-field complex resembles a modern-day professional minor-league baseball park, with big billboard advertisements on the outfield fence. The Capital One regulation-size field is artificial turf with batting cages. There is a big pressbox behind home plate. There is no bench seating, with separate seats for each spectator. Temporary seating can be added when needed.
There are two picnic areas with tables and umbrellas down both foul lines, squeezed between the sunken dugouts and batting cages. There are plans to build lockerrooms beyond the outfield fences.
The dimensions of the lighted field are 400 feet to center field, 325 down the left field line and 335 to right.
Construction began on the park 10 months ago.
One of the park’s unique aspects is Metro trains regularly run on the track that is overhead the field along the first-base and right field lines – and are easily heard – similar to the now torn-down Shea Stadium setup in New York City.
“That really adds character,” Hahne said about the Metro line.
Foul balls don’t reach Route 123 and rarely get high enough to land on that Metro track.
Other features are the tall Capital One office buildings beyond the left-field foul line, that include shopping areas within walking distance of the park.
During the summer, Capital One Park will be the lone home field for the seven teams playing in the local college Potomac League. Travel teams from throughout the many Northern Virginia jurisdictions also will play at the field. There is a home-run derby event, involving former Major League players, scheduled for the park later this month.
A youth team from China will play games at Capital One in July.
There have been informal discussions that Capital One could be the site for district, region and state-tournament high-school games in future years.
“Now that it’s here, a lot can happen here,” Hahne said.