After at least one false start in recent years, a proposed Huntington (W. Va.) ballpark for Marshall University and potentially a pro baseball team is back on the agenda of city officials.
Be clear: the talk is the very preliminary stages, and there’s nothing in terms of a site, a funding plan or a tenant besides Marshall. But Huntington Mayor Steve Williams and Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick have been talking about the need for a ballpark in town. From the Daily Mail:
“We absolutely need and deserve to have baseball back in Huntington,” Williams said. “Any city that has an environment where they can take their families and be able to do things, they have baseball. There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t have it.”
Minor league baseball has been absent from the city since the independent Huntington Rail Kings played in there in 1998. The Marshall University baseball team played its home games this past season at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston and Epling Stadium in Beckley, venues that are about an hour drive and two-hour drive, respectively, from campus.
The model: Morgantown, where West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck successfully worked with a developer to build a new ballpark to be shared by the Mountaineers and a short-season NY-Penn League team. In that case, the private sector is bearing the costs of the new ballpark, abetting with tax-increment financing enabled by the state.
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