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Wednesday, Aug 27th

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Morgantown emerging as potential Bucs farm-team home?

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Pittsburgh Pirates

With the State College Spikes (short season A; NY-Penn League) dissatisfied with parent Pittsburgh, a proposed Morgantown (W.Va.) team is emerging as a contender to land the Bucs.

No less an authority than Chuck Greenberg, chairman and managing partner of the Spikes, says pro baseball could work in a shared facility. While there are some issues regarding NCAA rules and the like, overall the relationship between the Spikes and Penn State has worked out well for both sides -- and he's conveyed that feeling both to Morgantown and NY-Penn League officials.

“There were a myriad of challenges to navigate, NCAA matters and operational issues,” Greenberg told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I think this ballpark and the overall working relationship here demonstrates that if everybody wants it to happen, it can be done.”

A proposed new ballpark for West Virginia University and a proposed NY-Penn League team moved a step closer to reality Monday night when the Monongalia County Commission voted 3-0 to move ahead with a tax-increment-financing plan for a new ballpark. Planning can begin, but there's no rush: the West Virginia Legislature must sign off on the plan something this summer if a ballpark is to happen. A 2014 opening is envisioned if there's final legislative approval.

And with a seeming breakdown in the Spikes/Pirates affiliation relationship, talk of a Pittsburgh switch to a new Morgantown team has ensued. Probably way too premature: If the Spikes and Pirates do part ways, it would happen this fall when the current PDC between the two expires.

WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, who has pushed for a new ballpark so the university's baseball program can better compete once the school moves to the Big 12. The Mountaineers play at Hawley Field, certainly a modest college facility by any measure, and not one likely to attract high-profile athletes to the school. With the move to the Big 12, WVU will be facing off against schools with much better ballpark facilities, like Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech.

Luck also says he's been talking with team reps in the short-season NY-Penn League about a team moving to the ballpark once it is completed. While it's on the edge of the league footprint, Morgantown is within three hours of the closest NY-Penn League team

RELATED STORIES: Monongalia County approves WVU ballpark; Work continues on new WVU ballparkWVU: We want new ballpark for us, NY-Penn League team

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