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WVU governors to consider buying land for ballpark

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck is proposing a $2.3 million land purchase for a new baseball stadium near Morgantown, and the Board of Governors will consider it Thursday.

The Dominion Post said Luck is eyeing 7 acres near the University Town Centre that is currently owned by a private developer.

The three-story, $16 million Mountaineer Ballpark would be funded with tax-increment financing.

WVU, Fairmont State University and the New York-Penn League have expressed interest in playing there. Luck has also said the stadium could host youth baseball events and concerts.

Discussions about who will handle daily operations are continuing, but Luck said in an email to the newspaper that WVU will likely assume the responsibility.

The developers plan to award a contract this fall and start construction in December. They're also planning about $5 million in preliminary road and intersection improvements near the Granville shopping center.

When the stadium is done, developers would build a $24 million exit along Interstate 79.

The West Virginia Design-Build Board has already approved a plan to let WVU use a "design-build" approach to the project, a streamlined system that lets public agencies bid a construction project as a single package to predetermined teams of architects, engineers, contractors and subcontractors.

Typically, public agencies have to award separate contracts to many companies, staff member Donna Lipscomb said Tuesday. Legal advertising and bidding are still required, she said, but design-build allows them to make a single award.

"Design-build is quicker," she said, "because they're able to start getting the site prepared and start moving dirt while they're still working on the design."

Cities, counties and other public entities that use the process agree to accept intense state scrutiny in exchange for the chance to get their projects off the ground faster and with fewer expensive change orders, Lipscomb said.

WVU and its developers must provide the board with bids from three to five teams for review.

Design-build has been an option for public bodies in West Virginia since 1999, but Lipscomb said interest has been growing since the Legislature tweaked the statute in 2005 to give the board more oversight.

The state School Board Authority is preparing to try it, she said, to determine whether the approach is faster and cheaper.


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