Monongalia County approved a tax-increment financing (TIF) district for Morgantown, paving the way for a new West Virginia University ballpark that could also house a short-season team.
The district applies to University Town Center, a development from Mon-View LLC. A new $20-million ballpark for the Mountaineers would be in the mix, with most of the funding coming from TIF funds with the university and potential minor-league team also participating.
WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, who has pushed for a new ballpark so the university’s baseball program can better compete once the school moves to the Big 12. The Mountaineers play at Hawley Field, certainly a modest college facility by any measure, and not one likely to attract high-profile athletes to the school. With the move to the Big 12, WVU will be facing off against schools with much better ballpark facilities, like Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech.
Luck also says he’s been talking with team reps in the short-season NY-Penn League about a team moving to the ballpark once it is completed. While it’s on the edge of the league footprint, Morgantown is within three hours of the closest NY-Penn League team. And there’s certainly precedent for a successful college/pro partnership in that circuit, with the State College Spikes and the Penn State Nittany Lions sharing the same facility.
The state legislature must approve the TIF district; that approval could come this summer.
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