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10 Years Later: Appalachian Power Park Has Had Huge Impact On Charleston

Reported: Apr. 10, 2014 8:02 AM EDT
Updated: Apr. 10, 2014 12:44 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Katelyn Sykes) -- The West Virginia Power will open its 10th season at Appalachian Power Park on Thursday against Lexington, marking a major milestone in the city of Charleston.

In the 10 years since it has been open, city leaders said it has had a huge impact on Charleston and some of the things you see happening around the park, wouldn't be happening if the park was never built.

It's hard to imagine that three abandoned structures used to sit on an otherwise empty lot on Charleston's East End when today, it is a thriving ballpark. A facility city officials said without it there would be a lot less hope in this area.

"The general feeling was once this beautiful structure was put in place and slapped right in the middle of the warehouse district, things would start to happen around it," said Ric Cavender, executive director of Charleston East End Main Street.

Brand new lofts are being built right across the street from Appalachian Power Park in a warehouse that is 120 years old. New businesses and restaurants, such asPaternos, have opened their doors in the 10 years since the park has been open.

"The developement we're seeing in the warehouse district is very similar to what we've seen happen in other cities like Cleveland, Des Moines," Cavender said.

The $23 million ballpark is paying off in a big way. On average, 2,400 people attend each of the 70 games a season in Charleston. That is about 168,000 people a year, and some of them are staying in city hotels and spending money at local restaurants and shops.

"When it was under construction, there were a lot of people who thought we don't need it," said Rod Blackstone, senior assistant to Charleston Mayor Danny Jones.

Blackstone said people would say Watt Powell Park was sufficient and that the city didn't need to build a new park or invest in one.

"'Yet folks who were critical back then, you can't find them now because they realize that this has been a great place to be, not just for baseball but for other community events," he said.

Park officials also estimate it has employed 1,500 people, both full time and part time, since the park opened 10 years ago.

"Because the restaurant is here, because the ballpark is here, we've created more synergy with the Clay Center," Blackstone said. "This ballpark has really been a community center in many ways beyond just baseball."

Maybe most importantly to city officials is that it hs kept minor league baseball in Charleston because they said without it, there wouldn't be a park here today and most likely the development you see around it wouldn't be happening.

Thursday's game gets under way at 7:05 p.m. You can still buy tickets at the gate.



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