Rob Biertempfel writes that West Virginia University is pursuing the possibility of a NY-Penn League team in Morgantown.
After joining the Big 12 Conference, West Virginia wants to build a new baseball stadium. The university would share the facility with a minor league franchise, which is the same arrangement the State College Spikes (a Pirates affiliate) have with Penn State.
Tuesday, Spikes owner Chuck Greenberg said WVU and the New York-Penn League have asked him for advice about a possible setup in Morgantown.
This comes up every so often here and on other Pirates sites, and every time I have to ask, "Have you ever been to Morgantown in the summer?" There's no one there. It's awesome. The NY-Penn League schedule, in particular, corresponds almost perfectly to the months where there's no one there. Also, the drive times in and out of Morgantown would be pretty terrible, since the NY-Penn League has teams scattered as far away as Connecticut, New Hampshire and Northern Vermont. (The league plays in divisions, but teams frequently play outside their divisions, and even a lot of the teams in the southwestern-most division, like Auburn and Batavia, aren't particularly close to Morgantown.)
The drive-time issue might not be seen as a big deal, of course -- there was once a minor-league team in Medicine Hat, Alberta, so it's been worse. And several teams in the NY-Penn League had attendance figures of less than 1,500 last year, which wouldn't be an incredibly high bar for Morgantown to clear. But overall, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, as much as I'd like it to happen.
If a minor-league affiliate were to move to Morgantown, it might well end up being a Pirates affiliate, particularly given the Pirates' recent troubles with State College. Even if the Bucs wanted to have a team close by, though, I would think that Little Washington would be a much more likely destination, given that they already have a pretty nice ballpark and are closer to Pittsburgh.
Still, it appears there are wheels in motion, so it certainly looks like a team in Morgantown is a real possibility. That would be great for me, since I'm in Morgantown a lot.