Surveys to gauge interest in ballpark

PARKERSBURG – A survey is being sent out to businesses throughout the area, in both Ohio and West Virginia, to gauge attitudes and potential support for a new multipurpose ballpark in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The Wood County Development Authority has hired AECOM and The Rooney Sports and Entertainment Group to study the feasibility of a new facility.

Business and tourism officials in Parkersburg, Marietta and Belpre are sending out the survey to all of its members and contacts to get a wide variety of responses. Participating agencies include the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Marietta Chamber of Commerce, Belpre Chamber of Commerce and the Marietta CVB.

”Because its success would significantly depend on the support of the local business community, we have offered to assist by inviting input from our CVB partners regarding your interest in various options and facility amenities,” said Mark Lewis, president and CEO of the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The survey asks participants demographic information about the area; how far people are willing to drive to go to the facility; would they be willing to attend other events at such a facility, like concerts; and other information, said Cam Huffman, president of the Wood County Development Authority.

Huffman said the survey is the first phase in determining if the area could support such a facility.

”Depending on those results, we could move on to Phase 2, which would be a more indepth study,” he said. ”If it doesn’t come back favorably, it may not go any further.”

The surveys ask where businesses are located, what kind of business they do, how many people are employed there and what is their estimated annual sales/revenue. The survey also asks if the business is involved with any of the local colleges’ sports programs and, if so, which schools.

Questions are asked about opinions about having a Frontier League team in the area, which is a professional independent league that is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.

A full Frontier League season runs from May through September with around 48 home games, plus a potential playoff season. Ticket prices can vary, based on factors such as location, demand and market.

However, in the Frontier League, one season ticket can typically range from approximately $300 to $500, the survey said. Businesses were asked what a business’ interest is in purchasing season tickets for games.

The survey describes and shows pictures of luxury suites at similar facilities that can be rented on a long-term basis by businesses and local groups. Luxury suites offer private areas, typically for approximately 12 to 16 people, for event viewing in a more upscale environment, the survey said adding amenities could include VIP parking, access to other exclusive areas such as private clubs and restrooms, in-suite catering, access to other event tickets and other similar offerings.

While the size and location of these suites can vary significantly, annual rates for luxury suites at Frontier League ballparks can range from approximately $10,000 to $30,000.

Businesses were asked what their interest would be in having such facilities available.

Lewis said the business community is also being asked their willingness to advertise at such a facility, their willingness to reserve box seats and so on.

”It is to gauge the level of support this facility would have in the community,” Lewis said. ”They want to get as comprehensive a response as possible.”

A site for such a facility has not been determined yet.

For such a facility to work, it has to be able bring in people from both sides of the Ohio River.

”To be successful, it will have to draw from the entire area,” Lewis said.

The surveys are due by Friday.