Morgantown 'the right fit' for NYPL franchise

Like most businesses, in order for a professional sports franchise to be successful, a lot of parts have to be able to work well together.

The people in charge at every level have to be on the same page and know what's going on.

It's for that reason that Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington believes the newest franchise in Morgantown will be a huge success for years to come.

The partnership between the Pirates, Rich Baseball Operations and West Virginia University will be Pittsburgh's short-season Class-A New York-Penn League affiliate to Morgantown and call the new Monongalia County Ballpark home when it opens in 2015.

"It's great to be getting to work with so many great people. With Oliver and the people in Monongalia County, along with the Rich family, this is a great partnership," Huntington told Monday. "It's the right fit for us. This is the entry level and this is where you set your expectations as an organization. It's where these guys are going to learn what it means to be a professional baseball player, and we think Morgantown will be a great place for them to start their professional baseball careers once we draft them or bring them into our organization."

Rich Baseball owns the Jamestown Jammers, the team that will be relocating to Morgantown. Although he said the process of moving a franchise from city to city is never something an owner usually does, Bob Rich said it was hard to turn down the opportunity to bring a Minor League franchise to a place like Morgantown.

With the strong fanbase for West Virginia baseball already in place, as well as a strong love toward the sport in North Central West Virginia, Morgantown just felt like the right city for Rich to bring the team.

"I like the way this city is self-contained. You have great sports from WVU, you're close to a city with great pro sports and that's a natural affiliation," Rich said. "The people respond to the values we've seen. All the pieces are there. We should be able to present something that the fans will enjoy.

"We didn't want to be shopping around for places to move, but at the same time, Oliver (Luck) made it well known what was going on here, and it just happened that the timing worked out and we could be available for that."

The franchise is going to have plenty of benefits for all involved. One of the big things talked about during Monday's press conference was the fact that Morgantown has plenty of fans of the Pirates, and all of the good things that will come with having a Pittsburgh affiliate in Morgantown. In addition to that, there are the obvious benefits that the ballpark and the new team can help bring into the city and to Monongalia County as a whole.

"Bringing the Pirates here is awesome. Who wouldn't want to go watch a game of young players who could be wearing the Pirates colors?" Luck said. "It's also a great economic story for North Central West Virginia. This will have an economic impact of about $3 or $4 million every year, and that's great. It will provide jobs and give families good family entertainment. It's great for everyone, I think."

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