Officials expected to announce opening of minor-league baseball stadium in Gwinnett

LAWRENCEVILLE - A minor-league Braves team will open a baseball stadium in Gwinnett, officials are expected to announce at a press conference Tuesday.

An announcement that the AAA Richmond, Va., team will move to Gwinnett, possibly as early as the 2009 season will fulfill a more than year-long pursuit of officials to bring a professional baseball team to the county.

The deal reportedly hinges on a vote by the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners to purchase 12 acres for $5 million at a 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

Commissioners did not return phone calls immediately Monday, and Braves and convention and visitor's bureau officials declined comment.

A study conducted last year determined the suburban community of 750,000 would be an ideal location for a minor-league team, but the possibility hinged on the Braves organization because of the county's proximity to Atlanta.

According to sources, the Braves have been in negotiations with Richmond officials for years to either rehab or replace its 12,000-seat stadium. The team signed a lease agreement last August that extended its stay at The Diamond through 2010, but there are out-clauses after the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Gwinnett commissioners will reportedly consider an agreement to build a stadium Tuesday.

The Braves organization will join the Gwinnett Gladiators minor-league hockey team as a local sports attraction.

In March, the Georgia Force, an arena football team, will return to the Arena at Gwinnett Center after three seasons in Atlanta.

Officials are also pursuing a major-league soccer team for the community.