Bridgeport to Get Minor League Professional Baseball Team, Stadium

By John G. Miller

      The Exponent Telegram

The State Journal

April 6-12, 2012

BRIDGEPORT – Professional minor league baseball is coming to North Central West Virginia.

The Washington (Pa.) Wild Things organization has entered into an agreement with Genesis Partners to bring a team and stadium to the Charles Pointe Master Planned Community in 2014.

“We’re excited about the opportunities,” said Stuart Williams, the Wild Things’ managing partner.  Frontier League baseball is a damn good brand of baseball that generates a whole lot of excitement.”

Frontier League baseball is comparable to Class A or Rookie League baseball, organizers said.  It is an independent minor league program where many of the players are former college stars trying to work their way to – or back to – major league baseball.

Jamie Corton, managing partner of Genesis Partners, said his group is thrilled to see the efforts to bring a professional sports team to the area draw closer to fruition.

“It’s a great organization, very community oriented,” Corton said of The Wild Things.  “We believe it is a partnership built for success.”

The Wild Things have three principal partners, including Dermontti Dawson, the former Pittsburgh Steeler and recent inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Williams said the partners would unveil more plans about the stadium and team in the future, but they did share some details.

The stadium will seat 3,000-3,500 people and have an artificial playing surface.  It will be built to allow an additional 3,500-seat expansion.

Corton said the initial investment in the stadium is projected to be $15 million to $20 million.  He said investors are looking at three different sites at Charles Pointe.

Williams said The Wild things organization has been “a great success – by whatever measure you want to use … it’s been a success.”

And he believes North Central West Virginia has the right demographics to support another successful franchise.

“We’re very optimistic,” Williams said.  “People in the area need to want it, and we believe they do.”

The growth of Charles Pointe and the region provides opportunities for entertainment venues, he said.

“There is a natural extension of giving people things to do,” Williams said.  “There is sufficient population base and a desire for this product down there.”

He said the stadium and baseball team provide great venues for entertaining not only baseball fans and families, but also companies’ clients and employees in a cost-effective manner.

“It’s affordable entertainment,” Williams said.

He added that beyond a 50-game home schedule for the professional team, the stadium also can be used for college and high school baseball games, concerts, circuses and other community events.

“We’re very active in the (Washington, Pa.) community providing a very pleasurable experience,” Williams said.  “The possibilities with this type of a situation are limitless.”

He mentioned that for this year’s season opener on May 22, The Wild Things will actually start events on May 17.

“It’s like a welcome to Washington County summer festival,” Williams said, complete with a carnival midway, concerts and community events.

Williams said his organization was looking forward to developing the same type of atmosphere in North Central West Virginia.

Williams credited local and state officials will providing the tools needed to bring the team to the area, mentioning tax increment financing in helping to build the stadium.