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Mon County OKs baseball stadium TIF districts

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A proposed baseball stadium in Morgantown has cleared a key hurdle.

The Monongalia County Commission approved a tax-increment financing plan Wednesday night to help support construction of the three-story Mountaineer Ballpark and stadium.

The plan to create the sales and real estate TIF districts still requires approval from the state Legislature, which convenes in February, and from the West Virginia Development Office.

But the Dominion Post (http://bit.ly/UGuh0m) says the commission's vote was unanimous.

"We're not just endorsing a sports complex," said Commission President Bill Bartolo. "We're endorsing a sports complex, a new interchange and development on the west side of the interstate."

The developers plan about $5 million in preliminary road and intersection improvements near Granville and the University Town Centre. They say construction of the stadium itself would follow, at a cost of about $16.2 million. It could be done by February 2014.

Once it's finished, the developers would build a $24 million exit along Interstate 79 between Star City and Westover. That could be finished by August 2015.

The project is expected to create about 1,755 construction jobs and about 1,140 permanent jobs.

Jason Donahue, a broker for developers Mon View LLC, said his clients are thrilled by the decision. Mon View wanted the real estate TIF approved by Dec. 31 to ensure no bond proceeds would be lost.

The developers haven't specified who will own the stadium, but they have said they envision it being publicly owned.

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

"Today's approval gets us one step closer to being able to say perhaps the three best words in the English language," he said, "'Let's Play Ball.'"


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