Jammers to W. Va.? NY-P League announces one team to relocate in time for 2015 season

The New York-Penn League has announced plans to relocate one of its existing 14 franchises to Morgantown, W.Va. in time for the 2015 season, according to published reports.

And the team on the move could be the Jamestown Jammers.

In a story in Wednesday’s Times West Virginian, Pat O’Conner, the president and chief executive officer of Minor League Baseball, and New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes indicated that ”they are ready to relocate the Jamestown franchise – affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates – in a new stadium in Morgantown” if West Virginia University ”can push through the construction of a baseball field.”

According to the report, the cost of the stadium was estimated at between $16 and $18 million and would be shared with West Virginia University, a member of the Big 12 Conference, and located in the University Town Centre Development overlooking both Morgantown and WVU.

In another report – from The Register-Herald – construction of the facility is set to begin in 2014 and finish before the start of the 2015 season. A bill to finance the park has already passed the State Senate, and is now before the House Judiciary Committee, the newspaper reported.

The Jammers’ two-year player development deal, signed in September 2012, expires in 2014.

Jammers’ general manager Matt Drayer declined comment Wednesday night.

“Morgantown’s population, demographics and corporate community assets make it one of the best small cities in America to call home,” O’Conner said in a statement on MiLB.com, the official site of Minor League Baseball. “The addition of a New York-Penn League club will give Morgantown yet another resource to enhance the quality of life of its citizens.”

This would be the fifth New York-Penn League franchise to share its facilities with colleges and universities, which is considered beneficial to both parties in sharing operational costs.

“Because we are short-season it really fits well working with other universities,” Hayes told John Antonik of WVUsports.com. “For example, we manage and operate the facility at Penn State University, so we share that facility with the Nittany Lions baseball team. We also have ballclubs on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, the University of Massachusetts on its Lowell campus in Lowell, Mass., as well as a ball club on the Vermont campus.”

The Jammers, who share use of Diethrick Park with several tenants, including the Jamestown Community College baseball team, are part of a storied professional existence in the city, dating back to 1939, the first year of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League.

Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi wasn’t immediately available for comment.