On one hand West Chester Mayor Dick Yoder should be commended for his creativity and ability to take a risk to look into building a minor league baseball stadium in West Chester to house a single A team, and committed on the other for overlooking another obvious, dare I say opportunistic way to generate both local revenue and entertainment value in the region; a multi-purpose arena in downtown West Chester.In case you missed the front page story, West Chester is currently spending $75,000 to investigate the feasibility of building a minor league baseball stadium in the borough.
Let’s face it; this region is oversaturated with baseball both at the minor league and major league level. The Philadelphia Phillies, Wilmington Blue Rocks, Camden River Sharks, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and Reading Phillies are all within an hour’s drive of downtown West Chester, with the Lakewood Blue Claws, Atlantic City Surf and Trenton Thunder a little further on up the road.
And do not forget the limited use that a multi-million dollar minor league baseball stadium would see in this climate.
However, the yield of a multi-purpose arena would benefit the borough, local businesses and West Chester University as well. With the Spectrum in Philadelphia potentially being razed to make way for a hotel as part of the Philly Live complex, it’s two major tenants the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms and MISL’s Kixx may soon be homeless.
Where better to relocate these two booming minor league sports franchises then West Chester? Besides potentially luring minor league hockey and indoor soccer to the region, a new arena could also house West Chester University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, thus giving these teams and this institution a state of the art facility to call home. The revenue potential for both entities, West Chester Borough and the Uni-versity, would be only surpassed by the undoubted boost in recruiting for the Golden Rams, especially since increased revenue should equal an increase in funds allocated to athletic scholarships.
Furthermore unlike a baseball stadium that would lie dormant six months every year, a sports arena can host events 365 days a year. Borough residents and WCU students alike could be treated to The Harlem Globetrotters on a Sunday, Golden Ram basketball on a Monday, Phantoms Hockey on a Tuesday, basketball on Wednesday, Kixx soccer on a Thursday, the Rolling Stones on their 17th farewell tour on Friday night with a double dip of basketball and Kixx soccer or Phantoms hockey on Saturday.
Not only is that my kind of week, but can you imagine the money spoon fed into the economy from selling out a 12,000 seat arena seven days a week? It sure as hell beats 65 home baseball games a season in what amounts to a giant placeholder of prime real estate the other half a year.
This is a very unique opportunity for West Chester University and the boro itself to come together and forge a partnership benefiting both sides. This University seems mindful as ever of its rising national profile given recent events on campus. Becomming tenants in an arena the size of what could be purchased for the price of the minor league stadium currently under consideration would certainly at the very least bring regional exposure to WCU and set the Golden Rams apart from Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference rivals.
Mayor Yoder has shown tremendous foresight by even considering bringing a facility such as a minor league baseball stadium to this quaint college town. But the difference between what an arena and a stadium would bring the region is like comparing a Cadillac Escalade to a minivan. And if you had the chance for the Escalade would you ever even consider the minivan?
Matt Lombardo is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at ML606516@wcupa.edu