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SeaWolves, city spar over new batting tunnel

Erie SeaWolvesIt may not sound like a big deal to fans, but something like this is increasingly important to teams and leagues: the Erie SeaWolves (Class AA; Eastern League) and the city are sparring over what league president Joe McEacharn calls “unacceptable.”

The issue: when the city renovated Erie Insurance Arena, it removed the exiting batting tunnel and put up a new one open to the elements. Because the tunnel is open and unheated, it’s not likely to be used in cold weather — which is basically now. The city did set up a temporary batting cage in a nearby warehouse, but that’s not a long-term solution.

The long-term solution, instead, is building new permanent indoor batting cages at Jerry Uht Park. From

Eastern League President Joe McEacharn, who visited Jerry Uht Park on Friday and Saturday, said the new tunnel — built for about $100,000, Wells said — isn’t up to the standards of other batting facilities in the league.

“It’s a huge disappointment,” McEacharn said. “That’s one of the reasons I came over here, specifically. I’m going to need to follow up with that. It’s not consistent with the discussions that have been held over the years. And, frankly, to be quite honest with you, I don’t know why they wasted their money.”

McEacharn blamed what he called “a breakdown in communications” for the failure to have a better tunnel constructed. He said he believes he and the SeaWolves and Tigers could have worked with convention center authority officials to build a “more suitable” structure for roughly the same cost.

Convention-center officials say they’ll work with the team on a permanent enclosed facility. Why this is a big deal: the batting cages are designed to be used by players during inclement weather, and if the batting cages are open to the elements, it defeats the purpose of having them in the first place.


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