Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

April 23, 2013

It’s time for baseball to return to Cumberland

A few months ago, I attended a presentation at the Allegany Museum regarding the history and future of baseball in Cumberland.

The second portion of the presentation was done by Cumberland native and University of Maryland architecture graduate Zachary Klipstein, and proposed plans to develop a minor-league style ballpark in Downtown Cumberland. I fully support the basic idea of Mr. Klipstein’s proposal.

Late last month, the New York-Penn League, a Minor League Baseball-affiliated Short Season-A level league announced it would be moving one of its league’s existing franchise to Morgantown, West Virginia, and that a brand new ballpark would be built in the University Town Centre area of the city.

This action, I believe, should begin to trigger a greater sense of feasibility in bringing baseball back to a city begging for such an attraction.

As of the 2010 Census, the Morgantown Metropolitan Area, defined by the Office of Management and Budget as Preston and Monongalia counties of West Virginia, was home to 129,709 citizens.

The Cumberland, Maryland-West Virginia Metropolitan Area, which is defined by the OMB as Allegany and Mineral Counties, is home to 102,008 citizens. The median household income of the Cumberland Metro area is $2,640 higher than that of the Morgantown Metro area.

Also, let us not forget the economic impact a ballpark can bring to an area like ours. A great example of the economic benefits of a new baseball stadium can be seen in Charleston, W.Va., home of Appalachian Power Park and the West Virginia Power.

In an article in the Charleston Gazette from April of last year, Andy Milovich, executive vice president of the Power said, “The real economic impact of a ballpark like this isn’t necessarily felt in the number of jobs or dollars churned but in the sense of community that comes from it… When people grow up and realize Charleston is the type of community they want to raise their kids in, that’s the impact [Appalachian Power Park] has.”

The article also states that the 225 paid employees and 15 interns earned in excess of $1 million, not including the salaries of players and coaches. It should be clear that the economic benefits of a ballpark in the city are very tangible and could help bring Cumberland back to life.

Finally, in order to find a suitor for a new stadium, we must not only approach Minor League Baseball, but also independent professional baseball leagues, leagues such as the Atlantic League, which recently started an expansion team in Waldorf, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, and are expanding to Ashburn, Va. with the Loudon County Hounds.

As a former resident and frequent visitor of the Southern Maryland region, I can speak first-hand about the popularity of these independent baseball franchises.

Atlantic League teams have also attracted former MLB superstars, such as Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson, and Vladimir Guerrero, bringing floods of people to their games.

It should be said that a ballpark is quite the investment, but could also bring huge returns, not only economically, but socially for everyone in the area.

A ballpark is a place to socialize, meet up, and enjoy the Great American Pastime. Cumberland is rich in baseball history, and I encourage everyone to get behind this and extend that history.

Ethan West

Cumberland

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