Officials: Proposed ballpark & team not likely to happen

Published: May. 16, 2017 at 6:54 PM EDT
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The words "play ball" won't be heard any time soon-at least not on Fort Boreman Hill.

At least, that's the point officials are making about the proposed baseball team and multi-purpose ballpark in Parkersburg.

Mayor Tom Joyce is among a number of people who says that, for this to happen, a private partner for the project is a necessity.

However, Sam Winans, a member of the Wood County Development Authority who was part of the project efforts, says there was such a partner in Stu Williams, owner of the Washington Wild Things team on which the Parkersburg team and ballpark were based.

While Winans still believes there could be a team and park in the area, he agrees it's not about to happen in the forseeable future.

"It just died, much like the civic center did years ago," Winans says, "because of a lack of interest from the naysayers beating the people who wanted to do things."

We asked: Is that also a feeling among the general public, of 'this sounds like a good idea, except that I'm going to have to pay for it'?-in terms of taxes.

"It could have been," he responded, "and I think it was a real killer that a number of naysayers did not want a lot of public money in there."

Winans adds then-mayor Bob Newell proposed a $1 fee on parking at the ballpark complex, to help pay for the project.

Bill Lee, Commissioner of the Frontier League, of which the proposed team could be a member, says the last discussion he recalled about the project was nearly two years ago.

Lee says public support, both from civic leaders and the community, is vital in getting the league interested in locating a team in any city.

"We want to make sure that, when we go in there, that you give everybody all the best opportunities to succeed," Lee said Tuesday. "Because you don't want failures any more; we've had failures in the past in this league, and we don't want them any more."

Winans says while former mayor Jimmy Colombo was very interested in the idea, his immediate predecessor, Newell, was the real move within the city behind it.

Newell stepped down as mayor amid scandal in June 2016.