Committee looks at third potential site

PARKERSBURG – A third location, outside the city limits, is being considered as a potential site for a minor league baseball stadium.

Members of the Wood County Development Authority’s Parkersburg Baseball Study Committee were recently approached by a representative of the owner of land atop Lee’s Hill, which overlooks West Virginia 47 near U.S. 50, about the possibility. The committee is taking a group to look over the site today.

The City of Parkersburg has committed a total of $30,000 to two phases of feasibility studies for the project, and Mayor Bob Newell has said information from those studies would only be used to place a stadium within the city. On Wednesday, he said that remains the case even though Lee’s Hill is not in the city- yet.

“If that went, it would be brought in,” Newell said. “That was the very first discussion, even before the first meeting was called.”

The mayor said the site would need to have water and sewer infrastructure constructed to make it a viable location.

“The city’s the only one in the position to help with that,” he said.

The two sites originally considered for the second phase of the feasibility study are Fort Boreman Hill and the Sixth Street area of downtown Parkersburg. Sam Winans, co-chairman of the baseball committee, said there is strong interest from a developer in purchasing the Fort Boreman land but that would not necessarily preclude a stadium from being built there, just change with whom the potential owner would be negotiating.

City Development Director Rickie Yeager will be among the people touring the site today, along with Tom Rooney, president of the Rooney Sports and Entertainment Group, which is working with the committee, and a representative of Chicago-based AECOM Technical Services, the company performing the feasibility study.

If it’s decided the new location merits additional consideration, AECOM would have to do further analysis, Yeager said, but that shouldn’t delay the second phase draft report. Winans said that document could come in the next couple of weeks.

The Lee’s Hill property is owned by Belpre resident Wayne Riggs. A message left for him Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

Winans said the new site is enticing, especially after the completion of Corridor D, which upgraded U.S. 50 through and around the city.

“When 50 went out that way, it made that property that much more valuable,” he said.

Baseball is only part of the appeal of the project, Winans noted. The stadium is seen as a venue for other entertainment and activities and an anchor for additional businesses.

“This is all about economic development,” he said.