Bucs affiliate could land at new WVU stadium
West Virginia University is set to open a new baseball stadium in 2015 -- and an era of professional baseball in Morgantown, W.Va.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014, and the stadium is expected to be shared by the Mountaineers and a New York-Penn League affiliate.
"The New York-Penn League is thrilled to announce its intent to bring a professional baseball franchise to Morgantown," New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes said during Tuesday's news conference at WVU Coliseum.
The prospect of a new stadium in Morgantown has spurred speculation that the Pirates would be interested in housing a Class A affiliate there.
The Pirates declined to comment.
After a six-year association with State College, the Pirates signed a two-year agreement in September with Jamestown.
Hayes said neither the Pirates' New York-Penn League affiliate -- Class A Jamestown (N.Y.) -- nor any other league team has applied to relocate to Morgantown.
Hayes said there are "three or four" affiliates that are candidates for relocation.
"I don't think it would be a good idea for people to speculate about Jamestown being the club," said Hayes, who wouldn't name the possible teams. "That's not necessarily going to happen."
There are 14 teams in the New York-Penn League for the 2013 season. Jamestown will play in the Pinckney Division with Auburn (Nationals), Batavia (Marlins), State College (Cardinals), Mahoning Valley (Indians) and Williamsport (Phillies).
The proposed stadium has a financing plan that received state approval but has not been finalized, WVU deputy athletic director Mike Parsons said.
"There are some legislative steps that need to be done," Parsons said. "The bonding capacity has been approved for the tax-increment funding. It needs to go through the House of Representatives. Once the house approves it, the governor needs to sign it. There are also some administrative things that need to be done. It will need to be approved by the WVU Board of Governors."
WVU currently has two-year agreements with baseball stadiums in Charleston and Beckley. Parsons said that wouldn't prevent the Mountaineers from moving to the Morgantown stadium in 2015.
"We can get out of the contract," Parsons said.
Four New York-Penn League clubs share facilities with colleges and universities. State College, for instance, is affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals and shares a facility with Penn State.
A new stadium would be an upgrade for West Virginia, which is playing its first season in the Big 12.
Fellow conference member Texas has a baseball facility seating more than 6,500 spectators with chairbacks on more than 5,000 seats and covered seating throughout most of the stands. In 2005, Texas' baseball stadium underwent an $18 million renovation.
Hawley Field has been West Virginia's on-campus baseball stadium since 1971.
"If you look at college baseball in the last 20 years, every time a program has built a facility like this, the program has made an immediate jump," first-year WVU baseball coach Randy Mazey said. "This is probably the single biggest event to happen in Morgantown baseball history."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.