Though there’s some excitement about bringing the independent Frontier League to West Virginia, consultant Tom Rooney warns that much, much more work needs to be done before any decisions are made.
West Virginia has been a hotbed of activity the last 12 months when it comes to potential new ballparks: West Virginia University is moving ahead with a private developer on a new ballpark in Morgantown (to be shared with a NY-Penn League team if things work out), and officials in Bridgeport and Parkersburg have been pushing studies to determine the feasibility of new facilities.
All of this is generating a lot of buzz in the Mid-Ohio Valley, but the reports we’ve received from league insiders isn’t as enthusiastic: if expansion happens, it will take several years.
And that sense of realistic was echoed by Tom Rooney, president of Rooney Sports and Entertainment Group, who has been working with the Frontier League on expansion feasibility. He spoke yesterday to the Parkersburg Rotary Club about the state of things on the baseball front, and a local report indicates he expressed some caution:
Bringing a baseball team to the Mid-Ohio Valley could be a long process, but it can be a positive one, Rooney said. There are a lot of factors that can impact or affect the process of developing a baseball team. There are also a number of different ways to fund the process, from grants, loans and local funding to programs like tax increment financing, or TIF. The West Virginia Legislature will be considering action on a TIF for Morgantown, which might affect the baseball expansion project in that area, he said.
Rooney said the Washington Wild Things, a Frontier League team in Washington, Pa., has expressed interest in expanding in both areas.
“I think it’s very possible that there will a ballpark down here with a Frontier League team. That might take a couple of years, but that’s not unusual at all,” he said.
Bridgeport may be more problematic: it’s a small community fairly close (35 miles) to Morgantown, with a population of 8,149, and only 69,099 in all of Harrison County. Rooney brought of a potential Prospect League summer-collegiate team in play as well.
RELATED STORIES: Parkersburg mayor: Let’s study ballpark feasibility; Parkersburg continues ballpark debate; Ripken Design reportedly interested; Frontier League returning to Parkersburg?; Wild Things to bring new team to Bridgeport, WV
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