MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University called on the closers Tuesday.
The presidents of the New York-Penn League and Minor League Baseball were at a morning press conference at the Jerry West Lounge inside the Coliseum, hoping to solidify the outcome for the tax-increment financing (TIF) district that would not only give WVU a new baseball stadium, but also bring a short-season Class A minor league team to the city.
"It's a phenomenal asset, not only for Morgantown, but the surrounding communities," said Pat O'Connor, president of Minor League Baseball. "It's a win-win that includes the university to the highest level. It's a facility to be proud of, but also a facility to help recruit better players, host regional tournaments and help elevate the game literally and figuratively.
"You will not regret what you're about to do from an economic standpoint, a quality-of-life standpoint and an affordable family fun standpoint."
There's work to be done, though. WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck, who was out of town for business Monday, announced in February 2012 a plan to have a TIF district formed in which sales tax and property tax revenue generated above a set figure would fund construction.
The TIF district would be at Granville's University Town Center and welcome more shops and restaurants to what already exists.
Senate Bill 125 has already passed the Senate Finance Committee and the full Senate and is now in the House Judiciary Committee, with a vote possible this week.
If it passes there and then with the full House, it must be approved by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and WVU's Board of Governors.
"I've been around long enough to know, as Yogi Berra says, it ain't over till it's over, but we feel very good about it," O'Conner said. "There are a lot of places I can be on March 26. It's my pleasure to be here and it is indicative of the excitement we share for the possibility of this project coming to fruition."
Ben Hayes, President of the New York-Penn League that would relocate a franchise to Morgantown, said Tomblin is "in favor of" the bill and that the office for economic development has approved the bonding capacity of the TIF.
The bonds will cover $16 million, but Deputy Director of Athletics Mike Parsons said the construction could cost up to $18 million.