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Phoenixville Could Have Baseball Team by 2016

The ballpark would likely cost $20 to $25 million.

Negotiations to bring a minor league baseball team to the borough are expected to begin in December and Barry Cassidy, spokesman for the Phoenixville Baseball Committee, says the first pitch in a new ballpark could be thrown as soon as 2016.

“I’d say there’s an 85 percent chance we get a baseball team. That’s my gut feeling,” Cassidy told Patch.

The committee—a body comprised of residents and business owners that was assembled by developer Manny DeMutis in February 2011—received a $12,500 grant in May from the Phoenixville Community Health Association to fund a study assessing the feasibility of bringing a ballpark to the former steel mill site.

The study, which will be performed by the Chester County Economic Development Council, will evaluate the comparable minor league baseball stadiums; study Phoenixville’s demographics; prepare pertinent paperwork; analyze construction cost estimates and timelines; determine debt service capabilities; locate potential sources of public funding and grants; and develop a capital stack scenario to finance the project.

The review should be completed by December, at which point the committee expects to begin talking with teams. According to Cassidy, they could target an independent team or a rookie league MLB affiliate. He emphasized that the group is keeping all its options open.

“If anybody owns a baseball team in the US and they want to move it to Phoenixville, we want to talk to them,” he said.

The stadium would be situated on ten acres of the 120 acre former site of the Phoenixville Iron and Steel Company. It would seat 3,500 to 4,000 and, according to Cassidy, come with a price tag in the neighborhood of “$20 to $25 million.”

What’s in it for the borough

The Reading Phillies, a AA affiliate of the five-time defending NL East champs, draw about 450,000 fans a year to their 9,000 seat stadium, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. While Phoenixville’s ballpark would be less than half the size of Reading’s, Cassidy says it would nevertheless be a boon to the borough.

“It would bring more people to town,” Cassidy said. “The spinoff effect of people eating dinner there, stopping for snacks and gas, buying aspirin and coffee. It could be huge.”

The committee also views the venue as a potential hotspot for non-baseball entertainment. Committee member Richard Kardon—the owner of Point Entertainment, which does promotional work for The Colonial Theatre—will advise on the potential of this revenue source.

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Phillies’ AAA affiliate, hosted as its first major non-sporting event a July 14, 2009 concert headlined by Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. Its 8,100 seat Coca-Cola Park sold out.

So, who's going to pay for it?

While Cassidy declined to offer any financial details—save for an estimate that the park would cost around $20 to $25 million—Lehigh County’s handling of its Coca-Cola Park could offer hints of a financing scheme.

The park, which broke ground in September 2006, opened in March 2008, and cost $50.25 million to build, was entirely publicly funded: 1/3 of the tab was picked up by the Commonwealth and the rest by Lehigh County. The county footed the bill through the issuance of bonds and a hotel tax.

On the revenue side, the Iron Pigs 30-year lease agreement brings the county $1.29 million a year, which covers the debt payments on its bonds. Additionally, Lehigh County came to terms on a ten-year naming rights contract with the local Coca-Cola bottling company a year before the park opened, the dollar amount of which is not available.

When pressed again for financial details, Cassidy offered cryptic optimism.

“We presented how we want to do it to the people who would be responsible for making it happen. And we’ve received a small and a tacit, ‘It’s good.’”

“We’re comfortable that we could finance it.”

The Phoenixville Baseball Committee is comprised of Joe Altomonte, Dave Chawaga, Connor Cummins, Manny DeMutis, Adam Deveney, Dave Gautreau, Fred Hubler, Kevin Johnson, Richard Kardon, Ron Knabb, Jim Kovaleski, Dick Kunsch, Julian McCracken, Dave Moskowitz, Marian Moskowitz, Kevin Negandhi, Jim Northcott, Crysta Peers, Jim Redding, and Steve Welch.

Ike July 27, 2012 at 11:06 PM
A baseball team would be great,,PHILLIES FARM TEAM , NOW , THAT WOULD BE SOMETHING. BUT I WOULD LIKE TO GET CASSIDEE OUT OF THE LOOP , AND GET SOMEONE WHO , WELL SAY IT AS YOU LIKE , BUT LIKE A PRO. I WOULD VOTE FOR A TEAM , BUT I CANT SEE IT HAPPENING , HOPE IAM WROUNG , HAS IAM A VERY BIG SPORTS FAN..... and on an other note , did any ever have a bird in the moring that just keeps on chripping , so much that you stop hearing it , than one morning it becomes so much a pain , that you have to throw a rock at it to get it to flyaway,,,WELL ITS LIKE THAT WITH SOME PEEPS, THE insecure ONES THAT HAVE TO BE THE BIGSHOT......iT MIGHT BE OK , BUT IT SURE AINT ALLRIGHT. its hot down there.. LETS GO PHILLIES! AND LET GET THIS FARM TEAM!!!!!!!
Reginald Von Snoden July 28, 2012 at 02:49 AM
It would seem proper to get rid of Cassidy on this project. A true professional like Howard Bedell is located in Pottstown. He has experience in doing these kind of projects. He guided the West Chester effort and used the model where the Borough would own the stadium. This method of ownership that seems to make sense to Ms Longo. I am sure that it would be much better if we got rid of Cassidy, rallied around Ms. Longo's ideas and hired Howie Bedell as a consultant. I feel that is an excellent formula for success. You make a lot of sense Ike, what Cassidy is not telling us defines this argument. If the Phillies are involved we should be using Howard Bedell as he, at one time, was Dallas Green's bunk buddy on the road. His fee to West Chester according to the feasibility study was only $700,000 compared to what is rumored to be a 1.67 million dollar payment to Cassidy for his financial underwriting services. Ron Knabb, the architect, should also be replaced from someone outside the area with a resume that includes building stadiums. I know he designed the Vet but he was NOT involved it Citizen Park and that is a better park. Now that this project seems like it will happen i believe a change in management is necessary.
Chris DeVol July 28, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Great to see so many positive caring people, willing to invest and care about Phoenixville. If Barry Cassidy is the true leader behind this effort I highly encourage you to google and research his track record and talk with the Board Members that paid his salary over the last 40 years. If after your research, you think Barry is the man and can actually deliver the goods (don't pay him till he delivers) than go for it. Barrys Track record or lack therof, speaks for itself. Just talk to real people on the street as to who Barry Cassidy is. In fact, I believe he still has a blog, as to what he eats every day. Ya gotta read it!! Chris DeVol East Vincent Township Past Member of the Board of the Main Street Community Development Corporation(that had money till Barry spent it all on himself) Chrisdevol@gmail.com 6102471930
Chris July 28, 2012 at 03:37 AM
I believe his comments here speak volumes. Unprofessional juvenile dreck.
Ike July 28, 2012 at 10:37 AM
I concur that boy has got to just leave this project alone, who would be the best at helping get this done? ..........And i cant belive that i got this email,, this aint even funny .... Hi Ike, Michael Hill also commented on Phoenixville Could Have Baseball Team by 2016. "Ike your a coward." To respond view the comment on Patch. I got another one a couple of months ago from his brother , calling me something.What is it with yall. Acting like brats , i might be old , but belive me , i aint no coward GROW UP....Is this why yall went out and got an education ? So yall can call me names , THAN DELETE IT REAL QUICK SO LIKE ILL BE ONE OF THE ONLY PEEPS TO BE ABLE TO READ IT, I FEEL BAD WIT YOU TWO BROTHERS, MUST OF BEEN PICK ON WHEN YALL WERE KIDS, TO BE ACTING LIKE THIS.. LIKE I SAID , I MIGHT BE AN OLDMAN NOW ,, BUT I AINT NO COWARD. I really feel sorry for ya.

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