Three sites on baseball park short list

PARKERSBURG – As the feasibility study for a minor league baseball stadium in the area moves into a new phase, three potential locations are being considered.

In addition to the most often mentioned site on Fort Boreman Hill, the Area Roundtable’s Sports Development Authority is looking at the Parkersburg Business Park off West Virginia 14 and the Sixth Street area of downtown Parkersburg, said Sam Winans, co-chairman of the committee.

“It really comes down to, this isn’t just a baseball stadium; it’s economic development,” he said. “You’ve got to come up with property that’s expandable, and Fort Boreman certainly is, but downtown Parkersburg is also viable.”

The committee has already been contacted by at least one person wanting more information about possibly establishing a restaurant near the stadium once it’s built, Winans said.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell, another member of the committee, said the feasibility study couldn’t just focus on Fort Boreman Hill, especially if that site was unavailable or a deal couldn’t be reached.

“If we’re going to do a fair study, we need to have other options available,” he said.

The downtown site, off Sixth Street behind Tim Hortons, was actually considered as a potential development area several years ago during the administration of Newell’s predecessor Jimmy Colombo. The area includes some houses- although fewer today than at that time- as well as a former furniture store warehouse.

It’s also near the Depot Street property that belongs to the West Virginia Department of Transportation, which the city is eyeing for a port location, so there should be plenty of space for a stadium and parking, Newell said.

The third potential site is the Parkersburg Business Park, which was previously developed for a Luigino’s frozen food plant before that project fell through.

It is within the city limits, not far from the Coldwater Creek facility, and is owned by the West Virginia Development Authority.

That location has advantages and disadvantages, Newell said.

“The highway there now doesn’t hold the traffic for what they already have,” he said, mentioning Wal-Mart and Lowe’s.

Winans said the three locations are among many that have been considered, including some in Ohio. However, a draft report produced in the first phase of the feasibility study and showing strong support for the project listed Parkersburg as the ideal home for the ballpark, based on its population and business base.

If the project continues to move forward, it’s not a certainty that any of the three locations will be the final choice, Winans said. The committee is facilitating the project, but the prospective owner of the team and the stadium would obviously have a lot to say about the site selected.

“That still remains to be determined – who owns the team, who owns the stadium,” Winans said.

Newell said the committee will soon be reviewing proposals for the second phase of the feasibility study, which will include locations, financing options and a business plan.