There are few better ways to spend a warm summer evening than being at a baseball stadium watching a game. That is why the possibility of Parkersburg fielding a professional Frontier League baseball team in the near future is such a captivating and exciting idea.
Of course, there are many obstacles to overcome for that to happen - mainly finding an ownership group willing to put up the $825,000 franchise fee and finding the approximately $10 million to $12 million needed to build a stadium where the team would play.
While those certainly are not small obstacles, the fact that Frontier League officials came to Parkersburg on Tuesday to meet with two dozen businessmen and public officials is a reason for optimism for those who would like to see this happen.
Frontier League baseball was tried here in the 1990s with the Mid-Ohio Valley Redcoats. While the Redcoats eventually moved, it wasn't because there weren't baseball fans to support the team. The team played at Bennett Stump Field, a great high school venue, but one lacking the amenities fans have come to expect at a professional facility.
Steve Swisher, a former Major League Baseball player whose son, Nick, currently plays for the New York Yankees, contends there are reasons to believe professional baseball will succeed the second time around. "Twenty years ago when I was here, we tried to make it happen and it was tough," Swisher, the former Redcoats manager and general manager, told the newspaper. "We had a lot of great people who tried to help us, but we just couldn't get over the hump. This meeting (Tuesday) was a good sign. This is as many people as I've seen together - people who are interested in baseball and that's the most important step."
Swisher isn't alone. The league is vastly different from the one that played games at City Park. It's a whole new ballgame.
A stadium venue would be for more than just professional baseball. It could also play host to high school and college baseball teams. It would mean concerts, circuses, antique shows and even business meetings and conferences. It could be the cornerstone of development. Since the Consol Energy Field was built in Washington, Pa., officials there said more than $100 million in surrounding development has blossomed.
As mentioned, there are obstacles - and when this amount of money is involved, those obstacles are huge. However, like Swisher, those attending Tuesday's meeting also seemed optimistic, leaving us to hope the obstacles are not insurmountable. The result will be good for everyone.
"The Frontier League is the last step for a lot of these kids," Swisher said. "This is a dream come true for some of them and for some this is their last chance, so they are trying to do everything they can to keep that hope and dream alive. ..."
We are confident if Parkersburg gets a team, there will be plenty of people in the stands cheering on those young men as they try to keep their hopes and dreams alive.