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Baseball Stadium in Phoenixville: Focus on Funding

With all plans in the preliminary stages, the committee exploring the baseball stadium concept will look at all options.

With a committee formed to explore the possibility of a baseball stadium in the Phoenixville area, one big question is funding.

Barry Cassidy, project manager with The DeMutis Group, which formed the committee, said the field, so to say, is wide open.

“We’re going to look at all options, so we’re going to seek an owner contribution or a team contribution probably from anybody that we talk to,” Cassidy said. “We’re going to try to get some private money into the deal.”

Cassidy also noted that Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester/Montgomery) applied for $20 million from Redevelopment Assistance Capital Projects (RACP, pronounced “R-cap”) funding through the state for a stadium in Chester County.

“The purpose was to meet a required state deadline and to ensure that the funds could potentially be used by any stadium project within the county,” Dinniman wrote in an October opinion piece in The Daily Local. “It is important to emphasize that while the funds were included in the [capital budget] bill, it does not mean they have to be spent.”

Cassidy said in addition to the potential of $20 million, more RACP funding could come for the steel site.

“We have $12.5 million set for the borough of Phoenixville as a pass through to the steel site,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy said that what’s on the list for funding today might not be funded the next day. On the Governor’s Budget Office Web site, information on the RACP program explains that projects offering high economic growth and job creation will be favored.

If state RACP funds are used for the stadium project, certain requirements would have to be met, such as paying prevailing wage and using domestic steel. Additionally, a 50 percent funding match would need to be made, and the state budget office would audit and oversee the project.

The way the matching funds are done can vary. For example, land can be used as part of the match—or all of the match, at the discretion of the budget office. In addition, local or federal funds earmarked for the project can serve as the match. That 50 percent match, however, is not optional as the program stands now.

“The RACP program requires that one-half of the match funding be secured at the time of the application and before the grant agreement is drafted,” according to the RACP Web site. “Therefore, without matching funds, there is no RACP grant.”

Cassidy stressed that the RACP funding isn’t the only option that will be considered to fund the stadium.

“We’re keeping all our options open,” he said. “We’re not specifically leaning on the [RACP]. To me, it’s iffy, but we’re still in there for it. We still have that allotment, whether it’s funded or not. We’re in the legislation.”

Getting private funding involved is another option. Other state funding may also help with the cost, and redevelopment programs are out there that may assist with cost.

Unlike West Chester, where plans to move ahead with a stadium have stalled, those exploring the project won’t look to have the borough own the stadium.

“We haven’t determined what … the ownership entity would be,” Cassidy said.

As for the cost of the stadium, the range is wide. Cassidy said the committee has seen examples from $9.2 million to $30 million during preliminary research.

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