PARKERSBURG -Efforts to build a sports complex and establish a Frontier League baseball franchise in Parkersburg are unaffected by a project announced in Morgantown, local planners said.
On Thursday, the Monongalia County Commission announced it was creating a Tax-Increment Financing district for the $16.2 million Mountaineer Ballpark and Stadium, a three-story complex in the Granville area near the University Town Centre. The district will next go to the West Virginia Development Office and the state Legislature.
In Parkersburg, planners have been studying the construction of a baseball stadium and sports center for a Frontier League baseball franchise. Mayor Bob Newell plans next week to ask Parkersburg City Council for $10,000 toward the financing of a feasibility study.
The Parkersburg project would not impacted by the Morgantown project, said Cam Huffman, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Authority. A sports committee of the development authority is a prime planner for the Frontier League franchise and stadium project.
"My understanding is that is a totally different league," Huffman said. "That wouldn't affect us."
The Morgantown project, which involves West Virginia University, is a positive development for Parkersburg, too, said Sam Winans, a chairman of the authority's sports committee. Morgantown is further along in the planning as a major step in the Parkersburg project is the feasibility study and determining local interest, he said.
"This will tell us how much interest there is," Winans said.
A tax-increment financing district to encourage commercial and business development also will be used for the Parkersburg project, said Winans, who sees the project from a quality-of-life standpoint by expanding entertainment options.
In Morgantown, the developers, Mon View LLC, anticipate $5 million in initial road developments, a new $24 million intersection on Interstate 79 between Star City and Westover and construction being completed on the stadium by February 2014. More than 1,700 construction jobs and more than 1,140 permanent jobs will be created.
The complex could be publicly owned, according to the developers, and be used by West Virginia University, Fairmont State University and the single-A New York-Penn League.
A major difference between the two projects is the stadium in Morgantown would be affiliated and dependent on what the league demands. Decisions would be locally made in Parkersburg and ran by a local board, he said.
While the project won't affect Parkersburg, it may affect the city Bridgeport because of its proximity to Morgantown if another league settles in the University city, Newell said. Earlier this year, Washington Frontier League Baseball, the group that runs the Washington Wild Things, announced a partnership with Genesis Partners to locate a franchise in Bridgeport and construct a new ballpark on the I-79 high tech corridor at the Charles Pointe Mater Planned Community. The team could be playing by 2014.
The region may not be able to support two minor league teams so close to each other, Newell said.
However, the primary reason WVU is in the mix is the Big 12 is requiring such facilities for baseball, Newell said. WVU, the state's flagship school of higher learning, joined the Big 12 this year.
"It will mostly be a WVU field and that's it," Newell said.