The good economic results from the recent DelFest weekend provide another example of the importance of cultural events that attract outsiders here.
Some of them also encourage locals (especially young people) to stay. Even more beneficial to our struggling local economy is the daily economic returns from the Great Allegheny Passage, the C & O Canal Museum, the Allegany Museum, the Scenic Railroad, and now hopefully the casino at Rocky Gap (only one of its features).
As for downtown Cumberland we can thank the energetic and effervescent efforts of Ed Mullaney and the investments of David Kauffman in outstanding jazz and blues concerts. Then there are the many stellar cultural events at Frostburg State University.
We could add something else that could round out the table of contents for our tourist bureau’s brochure and provide jobs to build, maintain, and operate.
A multi-purpose recreation center, whose summer centerpiece would be minor league baseball, could provide a venue with something for nearly everyone at one time or another.
During the summer months, when our home team is away, and after the baseball season, the stadium could “rock” with a variety of concerts, religious revivals, circuses, and other events. These might include soccer championship games and semi-professional football.
Some have even proposed the field could be built in a way to flood for ice skating during the winter months. When was the last time you skated on ice outdoors?
During the height of the summer and fall tourist season, the multifarious offerings described above could make the tri-state region a lengthy family vacation destination. A new recreation stadium would serve as a house for many of them.
For over 20 years I have tried to bring back a professional minor league baseball team that was here for a decade, beginning in the 1920s.
Others with talents I lack joined me several years ago in this organized effort, now call Tri-State Mountain Baseball. They include Larry and Ryan Hohing, Lee Fiedler, Howard Reynolds, and Ted Troxell.
Our goal is to produce a regional enterprise similar to the one in Altoona which attracts considerable numbers of western Marylanders.
Unlike major league baseball outings, minor league games are affordable for whole families. And they provide many special features, such as postgame fireworks.
This effort is a test of our collective will. The seasoned baseball team investors who have already demonstrated an interest in coming here know what they need to build the stadium and the huge cost involved.
They are business people who want a highly professional feasibility study produced to give them good reason to believe their investments would be profitable.
Tri-State Mountain Baseball is currently seeking $50,000 to share the cost for this report with the Appalachian Regional Commission. We have already received financial support from a handful of generous local citizens.
What we now need is a clustering of larger funds from groups, or simply individuals who want to help revitalize our region.
If you want to support this collective effort for a regional renaissance send a check to Tri-State Mountain Baseball and mail it to PO Box 3283, LaVale, MD 21502.
The money we collect will be held by The Dapper Dan Club. Your contribution is tax deductible and will be returned if we fail to meet our goal. We also have a website, entitled Tri-State Mountain Baseball, for you to keep track of our efforts.
Why drive to Altoona when we can have a nice stadium here? Maybe it would encourage our kids and grandkids to visit us more often, too.
John B. Wiseman