Update: 3/04/2013 6:40 P.M.
Tom Rooney is a member of the family which founded and still owns the Pittsburgh Steelers. While not affiliated with the team itself, he's been a consultant for the Steelers as well as several major and minor league teams.
He says that, for a professional team to be successful, it has to market itself to the entire area, not just to the city where it's located. he believes that can happen here.
"The issue is probably how many people will come across that river," Rooney said Monday, at the weekly meeting of the Parkersburg Rotary Club. "This has to be a regional team. It can't just be a Parkersburg team, it has to be the valley's team. And I think people will embrace it."
Rooney noted it took a decade from the time it was first discussed for the Pittsburgh Penguins current arena to open. and, while the talk for some time has been for Parkersburg to have a team and a ballpark in 2014, mayor Bob Newell says it might be worth the wait. That, he says, is because of West Virginia University's new membership with the Big 12 conference.
"They may have to build a new, state-of-the-art baseball stadium," the mayor says. "And, if that happens, Bridgeport or any other city close to them might have a facility."
And it looks like the next step toward bring pro ball to the area may be about to begin.
Mayor Newell says funding has virtually been secured for a feasibility study, to determine public support for local baseball.
Update: 12/07/2012 6:00 PM
Before a feasibility study begins on a new ballpark and pro baseball team, supporters hope to raise the money to fund it.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell plans to request the city's share of the $25,000 cost of the study's first phase from city council.
That money would come from the city's capital reserve fund.
That first phase involves a survey of residents, to determine whether the project is a worthwhile investment for the area.
The second phase would determine how the city and the Wood County Development Authority would pay for the construction of the project.
Supporters hope to build the stadium, to help attract a pro ball team to the area.
UPDATE: 09/11/2012 9:25 PM
It has been in the works for several months, but still in the planning phase. the current intended location is Fort Boreman, but some are wondering why there?
That was the biggest bone of contention from folks who showed up to Tuesday's public information meeting in Belpre.
Another big question....who is funding this venture?
Officials say it will be privately funded, but could come at some expense to the tax payer. A facility like this is not only used for baseball games, but also intended for festivals and concerts.
Things that attract people, and more importantly, cash flow to the entire Mid Ohio Valley.
"I think it comes down to a quality of life issue. It is imperative that we continue to build our area. That we put new facilities here, new opportunities, much like we have River Front Park. Much like the other cultural facilities we have here. But a new stadium at any park would have a snowball or a domino affect on new businesses that are coming into the area and it'll give us more bang for our entertainment dollar," says Sports Authority co-chairman Sam Winans.
Upcoming meetings are scheduled in Marietta and Parkersburg.
After public information meetings, the next step is completing a public feasibility survey.
Frontier League officials were hoping to open the new ballpark by the 2014 season. Those involved say that deadline will not be met.
UPDATE: 09/10/2012 3:25 PM
Do you have questions about the possibility of a new baseball team coming to the valley? The first in a series of informational meetings held Tuesday will help answer your questions.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell says the community's support will help decide if a stadium will be built in our area.
A meeting Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Belpre City Council Chambers will be the first of three informational meetings. It's also the first step in a feasibility study to determine where the stadium could be built.
"We're trying to gage the interest across the river to see if people will come to a baseball game from across the river. It's all informational but there will be a question and answer session where they can ask all the questions they want. We're doing this as a prelude to the feasibility study. It's hard to gage interest if nobody knows what the project is so this is really just an educational thing for us to do to get the word out about how baseball could be paid for and what this league is about," Mayor Newell says.
"The interest is overwhelming really. I have not talked to anyone that doesn't want to see this happen, but the questions always are, 'who's gonna pay for it? How does it get paid for? ' That's what we need to educate the public on, different ways other ball parks have been paid for. There's dozens of ways that their funded," the mayor adds.
Two other meetings will be held. One on September 18th at 7:00 pm at Lookout Park in Marietta and the other on Tuesday, October 9th at 6:00 pm in the Parkersburg City Building.
The Mid-Ohio Valley is one step closer to bringing professional baseball back to the region.
Tuesday night Mayor Bob Newell, members of the Parkersburg City Council and the Wood County Commission met with frontier league officials at the Blennerhassett hotel
They discussed options in building a multi-purpose baseball stadium and bring professional baseball back to the area.
Rich Donnelly was at the meeting and has more on the discussions.