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Parkersburg may be in store for new baseball park

Parkersburg News and Sentinel file photo An aerial view of the 175 acres on Fort Boreman Hill purchased last year by local developer Pat Minnite Sr. His business, the PM Company, has called a press conference for this afternoon to make an announcement about a proposed baseball park.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel file photo
An aerial view of the 175 acres on Fort Boreman Hill purchased last year by local developer Pat Minnite Sr. His business, the PM Company, has called a press conference for this afternoon to make an announcement about a proposed baseball park.

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — The company that owns land on Fort Boreman Hill has called a press conference to announce plans regarding a proposed baseball field and multipurpose stadium.

The hill was one of the early sites identified as possible locations for a stadium to host an independent Frontier League team that has been discussed for several years. Local developer Pat Minnite Sr. purchased the 175-acre property from the McDonough Corp. last year for $3.86 million and announced he planned to start construction on a multimillion-dollar development including condominiums, multi- and single-family homes, commercial and retail establishments, an extended-stay hotel and facilities for senior citizens.

The focus of the Wood County Development Authority’s Parkersburg Baseball Study Committee shifted to other sites, including the Sixth Street area of downtown Parkersburg and land on south side near Kohl’s and at Rayon Drive and West Virginia 95.

But Fort Boreman Hill jumped back into the conversation recently. Lisa S. Collins, marketing strategist for Minnite’s PM Company, said Monday morning that discussions were underway and an announcement would be made “as soon as those are finalized.”

On Monday afternoon, she sent a second email, saying a press conference was slated for 2 p.m. today at Fort Boreman Park.

Parkersburg Mayor Jimmy Colombo said that while he likes the idea of a downtown ballpark, he thinks Fort Boreman is the better option, in part because of parking.

“I think it’s a really natural development,” he said.

The committee has been working with Stu Williams, owner of the Frontier League’s Washington Wild Things, on bringing a franchise to the area. The Frontier League was where the defunct Ohio Valley Redcoats competed for six seasons, playing their home games at Bennett Stump Field in Parkersburg’s City Park.

Supporters say this venture can be different, with the team having a ballpark to call its own. And the park is seen as a venue for more than just baseball, modeled on the Wild Things’ CONSOL Energy Park in Washington, Pa. It plays host to concerts and other events, as well as a professional women’s fastpitch softball team, the PA Rebellion.

Colombo said the hope is that other businesses would follow a stadium to the area.

In January, former Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell signed a memorandum of understanding with Williams, granting Williams exclusive rights to bring a team to the area through the end of 2016. The agreement says the city will use hotel/motel tax revenue to support a financing package to obtain the property and build the stadium, but notes that can’t happen without the approval of City Council.

Although Newell stepped down in June, the memorandum is still valid, City Attorney Joe Santer said.

Colombo said he hasn’t reviewed the memorandum since being appointed to complete Newell’s term, but he has been in contact with Williams.

“I do know that Stu Williams is a nice person to talk to and he’s interested in coming here,” he said.

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