Midwestern State University officials Thursday asked for $400,000 from the 4B Sales Tax Board to build a new baseball field.
The 4B Board uses city sales tax money to fund projects it approves and sends on to the City Council.
MSU Vice President Howard Farrell said he and MSU President Jesse Rogers decided to lower the original request of $500,000 that was in the board’s agenda to $400,000 after he had a conversation with a friend of the university.
“Really, we can’t do this without your help,” Farrell said.
Rogers portrayed the first-class baseball field as a key to enrollment growth, which is much needed at MSU, he said.
He estimated that a baseball program with 24 players and 65 games each year would initially have a $4.9 million impact on the region, then continue to bring in $11 million a year to Wichita Falls in economic impact for many years to come.
It also would drive enrollment because it would attract a team of 24 students to the team, along with their girlfriends and buddies and neighbors.
The team would expose MSU to a new set of eyes, he said.
It also could attract some of the top local baseball talent.
MSU would give nine full scholarships to baseball players, but the introduction of the sport to MSU would others who must take 30 semester hours a year to remain eligible to play.
MSU expects to gain an excess of $10,000 to $20,000 each year beyond the costs of the program, Rogers said.
The field, covered in artificial turf, would serve the entire community because it would be open to high school teams and others who wanted to use it, he said.
Rogers said there are two spots on MSU’s south campus where the field could be built.
4B members asked whetherthe lighting it had helped provide for the softball field could benefit the baseball field. Rogers said no.
He would develop plans for a facility, complete with seating, that would cost $3 million, $4 million and $5 million to match whatever funds came in.
“I love your optimism about $4 million to $5 million,” Farrell joked.
MSU intends to first raise the $400,000 that it asked the 4B board to match over a three-year period — or sooner, if possible.
A board member asked whether MSU would continue its plans for the baseball field without 4B help.
“It’d be very, very difficult,” Farrell said. “When the city gets involved, it sends a clear signal that there’s buy-in from all sectors.”
In answer to board questions, Rogers said MSU’s field would be the best facility in the area, and it would be planned according to regulations that affect minor and developmental leagues so it could be used by all.
“If we do something, we’ll do it first class, or we’re not going to do it,” Farrell said.
Currently, MSU and Texas A&M-Commerce are the only two universities in the Lone Star Conference without a baseball program, Rogers said.