Word spread fast among parents of young baseball players in Loudoun County, Virginia, that Lions Field, one of the longtime home fields for Loudoun South Little League had been sold, which threatened the soon-to-start baseball season.
As is often the case in 2023, worried parents vented in local Facebook groups. They also sought the help of local politicians — in this case, Matt Letourneau, Dulles District Supervisor of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
“There was concern the Lions Club fields had been sold, and they may need to vacate that property immediately,” Letourneau told WTOP.
However, after discussions between the new land owner, Chuck Kuhn of JK Moving, the president of Loudoun County Little League, and Letourneau, a compromise was reached that will allow the already-planned spring season to take place on Lions Field.
Lions Field consists of two grass fields, hidden behind trees on Route 50 in Aldie. Parents on Facebook recalled memories of children hitting home runs over the Lions’ ‘Green Monster’ fence in left field. Others spoke fondly of team barbecues there in years past.
Letourneau heard the fretting and could relate to it.
“Yeah, I have coached on Lions Fields for years. It’s kind of a rite of passage here with Loudoun South Little League. There’s lots memories on those fields,” said Letourneau. “The challenging parking situation on those fields is pretty notorious.”
Last year, after winning the state championship, a team of 12-year-old Little Leaguers headed from Lions Field to the regional championships in Georgia, but fell short of making it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Lions Field has been sold
For years — during the growth of the South Riding, Brambleton and Aldie neighborhoods — Loudoun South Little League and the Loudoun South Eagles Travel Baseball team have called Lions Field home.
“There’s a real emotional connection there,” Letourneau said. “At the same time, the property was offered for sale by the Lions Club, and it was purchased.”
With a multiyear lease, the fields’ fences are adorned with banners of previous league champions. Teams lovingly care for the grass field after each game or practice, with young players raking the infield and home plate dirt, while coaches line the field with lime and drive the tractor stored in the equipment shed, located near the snack bar and barbecue/playground area.
Land records show Kuhn’s company purchased the land on Dec. 28, 2022. However, due to a communication bobble, Loudoun South Little League wasn’t informed that the land had been sold until March 8, “when an engineering company began surveying the property and laying out boundary stakes,” according to Joe Soricelli, president of the league, in an email to families on Saturday.
The challenge: The league had already planned 154 games, scrimmages, and practices for the upcoming season. And most of the county’s available fields were already spoken for.
“The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity on both fronts, trying to get this taken care of,” said Letourneau, who facilitated discussions between Kuhn and Soricelli.
“It was important for me to sort of let the two of them have that discussion, about any arrangement they could work out,” Letourneau said. “In the meantime, Loudoun County Parks and Recreation was working on options to be able to accommodate those kids, because the last thing I want is any kid who signed up to play baseball to not be able to play because of the field.”
A compromise is reached
In the past few days, Kuhn, who in addition to his success in buying and developing land, has also conserved more than 22,000 acres of land — land greater than the size of Manhattan — has become aware of the scope of the immediate hardship.
“We worked with our new tenant to move back the start of their lease, and have offered both leagues continued use through the conclusion of their seasons — June 15th — asking them to pay only what their budgets would allow, but with no obligation for payment,” said Kuhn, in a statement to WTOP.
In his email to league families, Soricelli voiced his appreciation to Kuhn: “I’m very thankful to Mr. Kuhn for his generosity and his commitment to youth baseball!”
With the compromise, both Loudoun South Little League and the Loudoun South Eagles Travel Baseball team will be able to enjoy a farewell season at Lions Field, while looking for options for a new home base.
“We too are part of this county and significant supporters of parks, open spaces, and land conservation,” according to Kuhn. “That’s why we want to make sure that we don’t disrupt the upcoming season for these players and their families, and we appreciate the county’s leadership in working to find a long-term solution.”
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