UPDATE: 3/10/2015 12:00 PM
It's been a long process, lasting several years, but the road to a minor league baseball stadium in Parkersburg got a little less bumpy Tuesday, as the Wood County Development Authority met and approved a report on phase two of the feasibility study.
The study showed that building a stadium in Parkersburg would have a positive impact on the local economy, in addition to creating new employment opportunities related to the ballpark's construction and operation.
Also of note is the study's finding that the ballpark would greatly increase demand for business services, such as retail and specialty food in the area. The next step is selecting a site. Several sites in south Parkersburg could potentially be chosen. Mayor Newel says that all options will be considered.
Update: 1/21/2015 5:35 P.M.
2017: the earliest the cry to "play ball" will be heard in Parkersburg.
An agreement was signed earlier this month to locate a professional baseball team in the city. But Mayor Bob Newell says there are still a lot of hurdles to that happening.
And one of the biggest hurdles is finding somewhere to build a ballpark,.
The mayor says it's not likely there will be a team in town without a place for it to play.
"We're safely saying 2017. We would like to see it start well before that, but I don't think it can be," Newell says. "Maybe it can, if certain things fall into place, it could be done earlier. We're just trying to get a reasonable timeline."
Of the locations the city has considered for a ballpark, two have now been sold for other purposes.
Parkersburg has two others in mind. But Newell says financing for the park itself might not be as big an issue as how much the city will have to pay to find its location.
UPDATE 1/7/2015 4:20 PM
Another step towards a professional baseball team in Parkersburg.
The City of Parkersburg enters into a cooperative agreement with the owner of the Washington Wild Things baseball team, toward the development of a franchise with the Frontier League.
The agreement, however, is just a step toward the league forming a team in Parkersburg.
Mayor Bob Newell says the city still has several possible sites in mind for the new field, including south Parkersburg and near downtown.
But two others - the Fort Boreman Hill area and a location off Route 47 - have been sold to private developers.
UPDATE 11/12/2014 4:55 PM
One less site for a possible professional baseball stadium in Parkersburg.
That piece of property was sold.
Mayor Bob Newell says a site off Route 47 developers looked at last summer was sold to a private company.
It's the second proposed location to be taken off the list of possibilities since July.
The mayor says, however, other sites are still in play, including one near downtown ballpark proponents believe would be the most desirable in terms of costs.
And a couple of other locations were added to the list of possibilities, including a lot on Route 14 on the outskirts of south Parkersburg and another lot off Murdoch Avenue.
UPDATE 10/8/2014 4:50 PM
The feasibility study on a new Parkersburg baseball park is in the second and final phase.
That final phase might determine the best location for the park.
There are currently three sites being considered, including the downtown area between Camden Avenue and Depot Street.
The mayor says that site's advantage is it's downtown.
"Of course, some people have fixed up their homes, so there's a lot of work to be done. There's a lot of vacant property down there as well. The advantage is, it brings a lot of people downtown to the existing businesses. That would be a great boon to downtown, I believe," says Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell.
The two other sites are Lee's Hill off Route 47, which was viewed this past summer by baseball supporters, and Fort Boreman Hill.
The latter location is also where developer Pat Minnite purchased land in June.
UPDATE 6/12/2014 5:30 PM
Where to build the multi-use stadium in Parkersburg.
The owners of the Washington Wild Things comes back to the area to see yet another site for a proposed ballpark.
Fort Boreman Hill is one site that's been suggested.
Another is downtown Parkersburg.
The location the developer looked at Thursday is just off Corridor D on Route 47.
The owners of the property have expressed some interest in selling it for development, and the City of Parkersburg believes one possible use is as the location of a ballpark.
And the potential developer of that park believes it has some advantages.
"We're going to be looking at some other sites, but I like the idea of this being a major master plan, with lots of other components to it. There's everything right about it," says Tom Rooney, stadium developer.
Rooney also helped develop the ballpark for the Washington Wild Things, the team to which the potential Parkersburg-area team has been compared.
Rooney says the Washington park also is located on a hilltop.
UPDATE 4/9/2014 4:30 PM
Rounding third and heading for home.
Local leaders say they're getting closer to learning if a professional baseball team is coming to Parkersburg.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell says architects have chosen two sites to potentially build the new field.
One of those sites is Fort Boreman Hill.
The other location is what architects are calling the "urban" site.
It's the neighborhood between the Tim Horton's on Fifth Street and the railroad tracks by the Little Kanawha River.
A new ballpark would bring an expansion Frontier League team to town.
It would be the second team under the ownership of the Washington Wild Things front office.
That's the frontier league team in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
Officials say everyone's just waiting on a commitment to build.
"We're on the fast-track. There's no doubt about it," says Mayor Newell. I've said all along that we'll know this year whether or not we're going to do this at all. The owner of the team knows. He ideally would like to break ground frankly, this fall."
The architects tell the mayor they can build a 2,000 or 3,000 seat ballpark in time for the start baseball season next year.
Groundbreaking is waiting on the results of a second feasibility study determining costs and sponsorship - really, who's paying for the park.
And Mayor Newell says construction of any ballpark will not be taxpayer funded.
Another important note, the mayor says the proposed ethane cracker plant is having a positive impact toward making this baseball dream a reality.
UPDATE 2/4/2014 4:40 PM
For those who think there really isn't much to do around here, this would be a big step in the right direction.
With all this snow and all these cold temperatures, it might just be a good time to talk baseball.
The park built more than a decade ago in Washington, Pennsylvania is more than a baseball field.
It's hosted appearances by everyone from Taylor Swift early in her career, to Sarah Palin.
But one of the team's owners told a lunchtime crowd Tuesday that time is of the essence to build the park and get a franchise, particularly from the Frontier League.
He says the investment should be more private than public.
"Getting a commitment to build the stadium, which I think could be done with my organization, if they choose me, to begin to have a presence here and begin to talk sponsorship, community investment. All the moving parts come together, and I think it could be a wonderfully successful project for this community," says Stuart Williams, majority owner of the Washington Wild Things.
The park in Washington is the home of the Wild Things baseball team, but it also hosts a woman's slow pitch softball team.
He says it was built in 2002 with a combination of private investment and grants.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell says one of the next phases of the local project is lining up interested businesses and private investors.
he hopes that can happen in the next few months.
UPDATE: 1/21/2014 4:10 PM
In this snowy weather, the last thing anyone's thinking about is baseball.
But the new stadium is moving closer to reality.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell says the next phase of the baseball study will focus on financing.
A site also has to be chosen, but most of the interest has been on Fort Boreman.
"That's only one site," Newell says. "I mean, if we're going to do the study, we need to study other areas as well because maybe the land won't be for sale at that point in time. So we have to have alternative areas -- and there's only a couple other areas in the city that have enough acreage to facilitate a stadium."
The mayor says sites near Depot Street and Coldwater Creek are other possibilities.
"If that interest actually parlays into actual money being put up, that's gonna be the big thing," he says. "We'll find that out in the next few months. Ya know, there's gonna be league officials here in the next few months meeting with people to gauge that interest and we'll find out then."
He says this needs to be done in 2014 and we're on the fast track to deciding one way or another if baseball's coming to town.
The park would be home to a minor league team from the Frontier League.
UPDATE 12/30/2013 4:25 PM
It's certainly not baseball weather but the game is on the minds of many in Parkersburg.
The results are in and it's a home run.
It looks like many people want to see a new baseball park come to Parkersburg.
What we're talking about is a minor league baseball team from the Frontier League.
Phase one of a study measuring whether people want this in Parkersburg is complete.
Around 1,000 individuals on both sides of the river participated and 75 percent of them want this to happen.
Of 150 local businesses that responded, 25 percent say they might be a sponsor.
Even more businesses said they might buy tickets or hold events at the park.
Mayor Bob Newell says he's pleased with the results of the study and a final decision is just months away.
"The league has fourteen teams and one team that needs a stadium right now and I suspect there are other markets looking as well to see how viable it is, so we will complete this in the next few months, totally," says Mayor Newell. "We should know by late in the year as to whether or not positively baseball is going to be here."
The next phase of the study focuses on locations, financing options and a business plan.
Mayor Newell says with the cracker plant in the works for our area there's no better time to bring this stadium here.
And he adds it's about more than baseball.
The park would draw people here for concerts and many other events.
A consulting firm has been hired to help determine if the valley is a good fit for a baseball park.
AECOM was hired by The Wood County Development Authority. The consulting firm is completing the first phase of the feasibility study.
They'll measure all aspects of the valley including population, income, and employment.
"We'll be comparing that to other markets that have teams in similar leagues and we'll be comparing that to a couple different leagues that have been targeted for the valley what kind of markets they're in and how the broader Parkersburg market in general compares to some of these markets," says AECOM's David Stone.
It's not just focusing on a baseball team, but what the stadium might be used for.
"What we're focusing on in this phase is the local market and what we think the market might be for not only minor league baseball but other uses and other events that could take place within a baseball stadium."
If the results from phase one are positive, they'll move into phase two which could include a location and cost to build
Part of the study includes community feedback. You can fill out a survey by clicking on the Hot Button.
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.