PARKERSBURG - A study will be expedited on a possible Frontier League baseball team and stadium in Parkersburg, the chairman of the sports arm of the Wood County Economic Development Authority said Thursday.
Chairman Sam Winans said the feasibility study will be put on a fast track, although officials have yet to craft a plan to pay for the study. A study could cost from $80,000-$100,000.
Winans said Tuesday night's meeting with Frontier League officials was the first he heard about a study being needed.
"But given that it is going to be necessary for whatever bonds are being sold, I believe we will do it," he said.
On Tuesday, representatives from the Frontier League met with local leaders and said a feasibility study on a proposed stadium and team would be needed to back financing for the project. Tom Rooney, president of Rooney Sports and Entertainment Group, said a study would be a "primary business plan" for the project.
"That's the blueprint," he said.
If the project moves forward, officials are hopeful a team could take the field here at the start of the 2014 season.
A feasibility study would take a few months to complete, and construction on a stadium would take about 13 months, officials said. With that schedule, time is critical, Winans said.
Winans said officials will meet and consider private and public entities to fund the study, he said. Winans said it has to be a blend to make the project happen.
Wood County Commissioner Steve Gainer and Parkersburg City Councilmember Jim Reed both said they have heard much public support for the project, provided no public money is used to fund the stadium.
Winans said officials will meet with city and county officials and members of the local financial community and development corporation to see what can be determined.
A feasibility study could be funded in a number of ways, Rooney said. He said a company could fund the study and that money could be used as a down payment on naming rights or sponsorship.
"In other words, they would invest in it," he said.
A stadium would cost $8 million to $10 million, not including the purchase price of the land. Stadiums in the Frontier League contain meeting rooms, executive and corporate suites, playgrounds and picnic areas.
In addition to baseball, the stadium hosts antique shows, circuses, concerts and meetings.
The deal also needs an ownership group whose team would serve as the primary residents of a stadium. League officials said it costs $825,000 for the rights to play in the Frontier League.
Ric DeRubeis, a disc jockey and promotions director for Results Radio, attended Tuesday's meeting. DeRubeis said he previously worked for a radio station in Pittsburgh and is familiar with the Washington (Pa.) Wild Things operation.
He said a 3,000-seat stadium would be great for the area and he offered to help officials.
"I was exceptionally enthused by what I heard (Tuesday) night," Winans said.
"We are very well aware we have been down this road before and there will be people against it," he said. "But this is absolutely a tremendous opportunity for this area."