Frontier League chief visits Bridgeport to view potential site for new stadium

Parkersburg also eyed for new team

The Exponent Telegram

April 11, 2012

By:      Adam Tobias

BRIDGEPORT – Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee was in Bridgeport Tuesday to view the potential site for a professional minor league baseball stadium and speak with developers of the project.

“What I am seeing so far I am very, very impressed with,” Lee said.

“There is a tremendous potential here,” he added.  “Hopefully, we can make this happen.”

The Washington Wild Things organization in Pennsylvania recently announced that it entered into an agreement with Genesis Partners to bring an expansion team and stadium to the Charles Pointe area in 2014.

The Wild Things have three principal partners, including Stuart Williams and former Pittsburgh Steeler Dermontti Dawson.

According to Mark S. Dellana, executive director of development with Genesis Partners, the baseball facility will be built on a 30-acre parcel on the northwest side of the intersection of W.Va. 279 and W.Va. 131.

Dellana said the placement of the field has yet to be determined.

“We have to take into account the sun angles and things like that,” Dellana added.

The stadium will be located just north of the new Bridgeport Recreation Complex at Charles Pointe, but it will be a separate facility.

Dellana said this particular site was chosen because of its visibility from the highway and accommodating access points. 

Lee said he was in the Fairmont area several years ago to look at a potential site for a new team, but those plans fell through.  He thinks Bridgeport would be an ideal city to locate a baseball team because it is not close to other professional baseball venues.

“It’s always intrigued me because there are a lot of people down there, and there is no professional baseball here,” he said.

Lee, who has been the commissioner of the Frontier League for the past 19 years, said his organization also is looking at Parkersburg to add another team.

The league, which was founded in 1993, currently has 14 teams in seven states and Canada.

Lee said he would be meeting with officials in Parkersburg today, but he admitted the league also is looking at several other cities across the Midwest.

But Lee says Parkersburg would be a good geographical fit because the Washington Wild Things “have kind of been out on their own little island from the rest of the league.”

And it also would give the Bridgeport team an automatic rival, he added.

Lee is hoping to announce the location of the 16th team in late 2012 or early 2013.

Lee said the Frontier League was a little transient during its first decade, but all of those teams have remained when new facilities were built starting in 1999.

He also said the league has expanded significantly since it first began.  He acknowledged that teams used to play on high school fields.

But now the league consists of players who have been in the major leagues and have had stints in AAA and AA, he said.

“The caliber of play the fans here would see is very good, and you’re gong to see kids that are really trying to get their opportunity to play affiliated ball,” Lee said.

When the stadium in Bridgeport is constructed, it will have a minimum of 3,000 seats, Dellana said.  But it also will have the potential to expand to up to 7,800 seats, he added.  Those involved with the project are planning for a synthetic turf surface.

Projected costs for the facility are between $15 million and $20 million, but Dellana says local residents will not have to pay extra for the project.

“Are their taxes going to go up?  Not for the stadium,” Dellana said.  “I can’t say they are not going to go up for schools or something else, but they are not going up for the stadium.”

James A. Corton, a managing partner of Genesis Partners, added that the undertaking will be a public/private partnership.  He said the baseball diamond would be funded by tax dollars that people are already paying.

“Anything we do here will be anything generated in Charles Pointe,” Corton said.  “If it’s a sales tax, it would be coming from Charles Pointe.  It wouldn’t be coming from anybody else.”

Dellana said the stadium also would be used for hosting various events, including concerts, circuses, weddings, graduations and galas.

“There is a need in North Central West Virginia for places for people to go to entertain, be entertained or just go and have a night out,” Dellana said.

“I think this is a great win for the region,” he added.

Dellana said a number of multi-use developments also are planned for near the stadium.  Those buildings could comprise of retail businesses, offices, restaurants and hotels.

Genesis Partners expects to start moving dirt this year and begin construction in 2013.