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Burlington to study future of Centennial Field

Vermont Lake MonstersThe city of Burlington, the University of Vermont and the Vermont Lake Monsters (short season A; NY-Penn League) have commissioned a study to determine the future of Centennial Field, the oldest ballpark still in use in Minor League Baseball, and certainly one of the worst.

The issue is simple for Engineering Ventures: Decide what in Centennial Field is salvageable and what needs replacement. Certainly the field needs a good laser leveling; the clubhouses need some TLC as do the lighting and grandstand seating. The current Centennial Field grandstand and field opened in 1922, though baseball has been played there since 1906 as the home of University of Vermont baseball.

The cost of the study: $50,000, paid by the city, the University of Vermont, the Lake Monsters and a private donor.

There has been a smatter of talk in NY-Penn fan circles that the Lake Monsters are not long for Burlington, but we don’t see anything happening this offseason. First, the team and the city certainly want a solution; we’ve heard from both in recent months about their desire to keep the Lake Monsters in Vermont. Second, it would make really bad business sense to move the team before all ballpark remedies are exhausted; the team averaged 2,524 fans a game in 2010 despite the condition of Centennial Field, and the market is a good one. We’re suspecting the Can-Am Association would swoop in the day after the Lake Monsters move — Burlington is a good market.

The study probably won’t tell us anything we don’t already know: that Centennial Field doesn’t meet professional-baseball standards. But the study may pin down exactly what needs to upgraded and what it will cost. There have been some imaginative renovations of ballparks in recent years; if all goes well Centennial Field can be added to that list.

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