CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Members of West Virginia University's Board of Governors on Thursday unanimously approved the purchase of a seven-acre property for the university's new baseball stadium.
The board, which usually meets in Morgantown, convened this week on the West Virginia University Institute of Technology campus in Montgomery.
The university will pay no more than $2.3 million for the ballpark property, which it will lease to the Monongalia County Commission. The county commission will then lease the land back to WVU, with the specific requirement the university must build, operate and manage a baseball stadium there.
The seven-acre parcel is located near University Town Centre in Granville, a suburb of Morgantown.
The complicated arrangement allows WVU to build the stadium using money generated through a special tax increment financing district.
The tax district, approved by the Legislature earlier this year, allows the county commission to use tax revenue increases within the boundaries of the district to finance the stadium along with other infrastructure improvements.
So, while WVU will build the ballpark, the county commission will bankroll the project for up to $16.2 million by issuing bonds and using those tax revenues to pay the debt over time.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called the state Legislature into a special session earlier this year to approve the special tax district for the ballpark, after a similar bill failed during the regular legislative session. That original legislation was held hostage in the House of Delegates, where members hoped to persuade state senators to approve pay raises for magistrates.
The county commission's lease for the land will expire in 30 years, or when WVU repays all the bond debt, whichever comes first. At that point, ownership transfers back to WVU.
Details of the stadium project aren't yet clear, as the university is employing a "design-build" approach to construction - with one contract negotiated for both design and construction.
Here's what is clear: the seven acres will include a 3,000- to 3,500-seat baseball stadium, as well as up to three team clubhouses, meeting spaces, concession stands, restrooms, family picnic areas and suites.