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Could SWB ballpark shift to downtown Scranton?

Empire State YankeesMore swirls of intrigue regarding the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Class AAA; International League), as Lackawanna County officials unconvincingly shoot down rumors that PNC Field would be replaced by a downtown Scranton ballpark.

Why do we say unconvincingly? Because the rationale is blatantly false: they say $40 million isn’t enough money to build a downtown ballpark. Which just isn’t true: in today’s economy, $40 million will buy you a lot of ballpark. Blue Wahoos Park in Pensacola — a downtown ballpark with plenty of issues due to a waterfront site — was built for under $20 million. And there are plenty of good reasons to look at downtown Scranton for a ballpark site: as much as we like the scenic backdrop at PNC Field, there are virtually no development opportunities at the Moosic ballpark site. Putting a ballpark in downtown Scranton at least provides an opportunity for any development near a ballpark.

Plus, it also adds a little balance to the region: the local arena — and home to AHL hockey — is in Wilkes-Barre.

So despite the shift making sense, Lackawanna County officials say it won’t happen: “You can bet the farm — that won’t happen,” said Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority Chairman James Timlin.

Famous last words. We’re guessing that within two weeks there will be calls for a study to see if indeed a downtown ballpark is financially feasible. With $40 million available, we know it is.

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