The Salem Red Sox and the City of Salem have reached an agreement on a two-year lease for the team’s home facility, which shall be renamed Lewis-Gale Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark. The Salem Red Sox (High Class A; Carolina League) and the City of Salem, Virginia announced today that they have reached an agreement on a two-year lease for the team’s home facility, which shall be renamed Lewis-Gale Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
The team’s prior lease had expired at the conclusion of the 2008 Carolina League season.
As part of the agreement, a number of improvements are currently underway focused on enhancing the overall fan experience. The improvements will be unveiled when the team takes the field as the Salem Red Sox for the first time against the Frederick Keys at their home opener on Thursday, April 9.
The ballpark upgrades include the replacement and addition of signage incorporating the team’s new brand and logo as well as painting selected areas throughout the ballpark to give the building a fresh look and feel. Fans will also be able to enjoy expanded concession offerings including food from the all-new Ted Williams Grille. Additionally the facility, formerly known as Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, has been renamed to reflect a smaller, more intimate setting more conducive to a baseball environment.
“We proposed the name change of the facility to the city because we feel the word ‘ballpark’ better captures the essence of the atmosphere that we are trying to create,” said Mike Dee, President of Fenway Sports Group and the Salem Red Sox. “Baseball, especially minor league baseball, is meant to be played in a ballpark and not a stadium.”
The new ballpark design will provide fans with a more intimate atmosphere by reducing the current seating capacity by 27 percent, bringing fans who attend games closer to the action. The restructuring of the ballpark will bring the number of seats to 4,968, not including the park’s standing-room-only areas, making the resulting seating capacity more commensurate with other ballparks in the Carolina League.
The new lease agreement will run through the end of the 2010 baseball season, though the team’s ownership and the City of Salem have already begun discussions regarding a long-term lease extension.