Wild Things' ballpark will get million-dollar upgrade

| Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012

The new ownership group of Consol Energy Park, where the Washington Wild Things play Frontier League baseball games, is planning about $1 million in improvements to the park this year.

"The most visual change will be a new scoreboard in right field, the biggest in any Frontier League park, plus upgrading suites, redoing the locker rooms and replacing carpet," said Stuart A. Williams, whose group, WashCo Ballpark Holdings, acquired the park from Ballpark Scholarships Inc. for $3.95 million, court records show.

Other members of the ownership group include Williams' wife Francine, former Steeler Dermontti Dawson, and Jeff Coury, Williams said.

Other improvements being considered include expanding the current 3,200 seating capacity. The stadium is located along Interstate 70, near the junction of I-79.

"We will do whatever we feel justified doing (improvement) in response to those attending the park," said Williams, of Upper St. Clair, a partner at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and former chief legal officer of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Mylan Inc.

Another change this year will be the ball club's mascot, Williams said.

"We have about six or seven people — at least five from other areas of the country — coming in today to audition for the mascot. But we are not changing the mascot appearance," he said.

Also, the coaching staff now includes two former major leaguers, he said.

They include Chris Bando, brother of Sal Bando and a former catcher with the Cleveland Indians, and Lenny Randle, a former American League player.

Because WashCo Ballpark is privately owned, it will now pay property taxes on the ballpark. The previously owner, the nonprofit Ballpark Scholarships Inc., although not obligated to pay taxes, provided North Franklin Township $38,000 annually in lieu of property taxes, said Chris Blaine, a spokeswoman for the Wild Things.

Ballpark Scholarships, headed by Philip R. Hamilton, retains "any and all mineral rights, including any oil and gas rights," on the property, according to the deed filed in the office of Washington County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Bardella. Other Ballpark Scholarships co-owners in addition to Hamilton, included Williams and Randy Guthrie, Hamilton said.

Previously known as Falconi Field, the ballpark became known as Consol Energy Park in April 2007 when Consol Energy Inc. of Cecil purchased the naming rights for 10 years for an undisclosed price. In 2001, a 16-member "baseball exploratory committee," led by Leo Trich, a former member of the state House of Representatives, helped form Ballpark Scholarships Inc. to build the $5.8 million stadium.

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