Sunday, June 15, 2008

County task force to study minor-league stadium sites

County task force to study minor-league stadium sites

The group is drafting criteria to evaluate 11 nominated tracts.

By Don Beideman

Inquirer Staff Writer

The group seeking to build a minor-league baseball stadium in Chester County is writing the criteria to evaluate the 11 sites that have been nominated.
"We hope to have site visits and evaluations completed by the end of summer," said Tom McIntyre of the Chester County Development Council and a member of the Chester County Stadium Project Task Force, which now has 30 members.

Members of the task force's 12-person steering committee are putting together the evaluation criteria. The committee is scheduled to meet later this month with the full task force slated to hold its next meeting July 23.

"We're a volunteer group so there's been no hard schedule," McIntyre said. "We'd like to visit the sites, either impromptu or scheduled. Some of the owners [of nominated sites] have even offered to show us around."

One of those eager for a visit is South Coatesville manager Denis Forrest. He feels the borough has an ideal location on a 51-acre site off Upper Gap Road.

"I think we're in the best of positions because we own the land," said Forrest. "Some developers may own land [they nominated] but the price tag might be high. We could even offer a long-term lease."

Forrest said the site is in the center of the county. The Route 30 Bypass would make it accessible. The borough has owned the site for several years.

"They're looking to build an EMS center in the center of the county," Forest said. "It's 500 yards from our site."

Phoenixville councilman Mike Handwerk also likes his town's nomination of the former Phoenix Steel Co. site downtown.

Handwerk said a petition placed on a table at the Phoenixville Chamber of Commerce breakfast Tuesday morning was indicative of the support in the community for the stadium and a Minor League team.

"There's a great deal of buzz in the community." Handwerk said. "Our nomination contained several pages of information and notebooks on any environmental issues."

The steel site has 120 acres. The task force is looking for 12-15 acres on which to put a stadium.

"Several parcels of the [steel] site could be used," Handwerk said.

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