The Exponent Telegram
January 27, 2013
By Adam Tobias
BRIDGEPORT – Site work for the proposed minor league baseball stadium at Charles Pointe is expected to start within the next 90 days, sources say.
If that schedule proceeds as planned, officials are hoping to have the first pitch thrown out at the new multimillion-dollar facility in May 2014.
Plans also are being considered for an indoor sports complex that would share a parking lot with the ball park, Mayor Jim Christie said.
Site work for both endeavors will be done at the same time to maximize savings, according to Jamie Corton, managing partner of Genesis Partners.
Genesis Partners, which owns the land, is working with Bridgeport officials and the Washington (Pa.) Wild Things baseball organization to finalize an agreement that would bring a stadium to south side of W.Va. 279 just across from the Fairmont Federal Credit Union.
Christie said the contracts have not been signed yet because it is still unclear on how the facility – which is estimated to cost about $10 million – will be funded. But all indications are it will be a combination of public and private dollars.
According to Christie, the documents are now in the hands of lawyers.
The mayor hopes to reach a resolution in the coming weeks.
"I feel like we've made some progress, but I'm not at the end yet," Christie added. "That's where I want to be."
Wild Things Managing Partner Stuart Williams also acknowledged that he and Christie currently are finishing up a long-term lease that would allow a new Frontier League team to call the park home.
"I do think we're at the end of it," and I don't see any reason why it won't be concluded," Williams said.
According to Christie, city leaders, Genesis Partners and private investors also are trying to come to terms on building an indoor recreation complex adjacent to the baseball diamond.
That building could include basketball courts, a running track and an aquatic center, Christie said.
But Christie admitted plans are still in the early stages and will not be completed until after the baseball field advances further.
Despite the deal not being official, Genesis Partners is in the midst of choosing three to five engineering firms to interview for the project, according to Corton.
Corton also said site work already has been approved through both the development's property and sales tax increment financing districts.
"We could use either dollars for the roads and the public infrastructure," Corton added.
The Stadium is anticipated to seat between 3,000 and 3,500 spectators.
The field also will have an artificial playing surface, which Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee says will open it up to several different users.
Christie envisions the park will host college baseball games, high school state tournaments, concerts and Easter egg hunts.
"Now you've got a use in there hundreds of days out of the year instead of just, say the 48 dates of Frontier League baseball," Lee added..
Lee said the stadium also should play a vital role in adding to the area's quality of life and economic base.
"The majority of the teams that I have in my league that are in a (similar) complex … they have generated more economic growth around them in restaurants, stores and medical facilities," Lee added. "Those kind of things are all springing up around every one of our ball parks that's got a good visible location like that."