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SWB Yanks potentially on road for 2012

Proposed Scranton/Wilkes-Barre renovations

It appears the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Class AAA; International League) will play their home schedule away from Moosic next season, as the league has tentatively approved an alternative site while upgrades to PNC Field are performed. UPDATED!

The original plan was to work around the upgrades to the ballpark and do the majority of the work during the next two years, but that’s proven to be unfeasible. Instead, the plan now is to get all the work done next summer in anticipation of a 2013 opening. The ballpark is undergoing an extreme makeover: the second deck of the ballpark is being taken down while a wraparound concourse and new seating bowl are being installed.

We’re told by league GMs six alternative locations are under consideration, including Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees (short season A; NY-Penn League). Like the SWB Yankees, the Staten Island Yankees are owned by New York Yankees, but in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Mandalay Baseball is a co-owner, while at Staten Island Mandalay Baseball runs the operation on behalf of the Yankees. Still, moving the team there would make for a smooth transition. Two other potential homes, though perhaps less likely: Ottawa Stadium or Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Class AAA; International League), where the SWB Yankees played two games when the field at PNC Field was unplayable and Murray Cook was brought in to fix it. A final decision is expected before the September league meetings.

The funding for the project was originally approved last year by former Gov. Ed Rendell, but the grant was placed on hold by Gov. Tom Corbett after he took office at the beginning of the year and released in May. The upper bowl as well as most of the existing ballpark will be torn down, while the only things untouched by the renovation would be the playing field, parking lots, lower bowl and home clubhouse. A new suite level would be built where the current suites and upper deck are located. A wraparound concourse will ring the playing field, and total capacity (with standing room) would be around 8,500. The total cost of the project is expected to be around $40 million: the state grant will cover half of the cost and much of the other half will be covered by the sale of the SWB Yankees to the New York Yankees and Mandalay Baseball; the architect on the project is Ewing Cole.

UPDATE: We’re bring told it’s highly unlikely the SWB Yankees will be playing in Staten Island because of the territorial rules for the Yanks and the Mets. The Mets would need to sign off on any move of a Yankees farm team into the shared territory, even a temporary one. Since there is the remote chance the presence of the SWB Yankees could cut into sales for the Mets or the Brooklyn Cyclones (short season A; NY-Penn League), they don’t foresee a situation where the Mets agree to the shift.

RELATED STORIES: Corbett OKs SWB ballpark renovation funds; Judge: Lackawanna County entitled to keep ballpark profits; PNC Field funding on hold; Luzerne County: SWB Yankees worth at least $25 million; Lackawanna County issues RFQ for PNC Field renovations; Debate rages over SWB Yankees sale; Yanks, Mandalay agree to buy SWB Yankees, unveil ballpark renovations; Compromise on the way in SWB ballpark squabble?; Rendell: Clock is ticking on new SWB ballpark financing; Counties continue spat; SWB Yankees likely to be sold this week; Lackawanna County: In a ballpark bind and mad; Squabbling could derail new SWB Yankees ballpark; Pols: Let’s not fix up PNC Field — or sell team to Mandalay, either

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