Baseball feasibility study begins

PARKERSBURG – Officials are beginning the feasibility study for bringing a minor league baseball team to Parkersburg.

The Wood County Development Authority announced Thursday it was hiring consulting firm AECOM “to conduct the study for a planned ballpark and team such as the Frontier League.”

A public meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Belpre City Hall, 715 Park Drive. Representatives from AECOM and the Wood County Development Authority Baseball Committee will be present.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said officials also will begin meeting with area economic and development groups on Tuesday and Wednesday for comments on bringing a team and stadium to the area.

“They will be here for two days, meeting with multiple individuals and groups,” he said. “I am excited to see this starting. We’ve been talking about this for more than a year now and I’m excited there is enough interest to want the study.”

Newell said he plans to attend Tuesday’s public meeting to answer questions.

“Mostly I will be there to explain this is not a city project,” he said. “This is a community project through the development authority.”

Newell said visible work on the project slowed down considerably in recent months, but behind the scenes officials were securing funding for the study. He continues to see interest in bringing a ball team to the area, whether it be within or near Parkersburg.

“I’ve had a lot of people ask what happened to baseball,” he said. “It has been a long drawn-out process, but soon people will start seeing movement on this and we will see if there is enough interest to go forward.”

In December, Parkersburg City Council voted to spend $10,000 to assist with a proposed baseball feasibility study. The Wood County Economic Development Authority has taken the lead on the project. The first two phases of the feasibility study are estimated to cost about $25,000 each.

Earlier this year Newell asked council members to continue to support study of the project.

“I still think this is a good idea with a lot of potential for this area,” he said.

In March, Tom Rooney, president of Rooney Sports and Entertainment Group, spoke to the Parkersburg Rotary Club about the ongoing efforts to determine the possibility of bringing baseball to the Mid-Ohio Valley. Rooney said the feasibility study would be key to moving any project forward, and reiterated local and state interest in bringing a ball team to the area.

Newell said officials tried to set up meetings about a month ago, but due to scheduling conflicts it had to be put off until now. Newell said the results of the first part of the study will determine whether there is a second part.