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Baxter: We’ll rebuild Fifth Third Ballpark in time for season opener

Fifth Third Ballpark fire

After the suite level down the first-base line at Fifth Third Ballpark burned down midday, West Michigan Whitecaps (Low Class A; Midwest League) CFO Denny Baxter vows to rebuild the ballpark before the start of the season.

“We’re going to be playing baseball again come (April 8) this year,” Baxter said at a press conference in the ballpark’s Stadium Club, offering press a clear view of the damages from an outfield vantage point. “That I can absolutely promise everybody. We’ll get through this, (and) we’ll be seeing baseball in April.” Damaged: the suites, part of the team offices, and the Whitecaps home clubhouse.

In addition, Baxter said the planned Midwest League All-Star Game would proceed as scheduled on June 17.

From the Grand Rapids Press:

“Certainly we can,” Baxter said. “The playing field is in perfect condition, the bowl of the stadium at this point does not look to be touched, so we have every intention of playing here in April.”

“If we rebuild it, they will come once again,” Baxter said….

Whitecaps officials expected to be allowed into the area Friday evening to get their first look at the actual damage, which includes the suites, concourse and Whitecaps’ clubhouse.

“It will be difficult,” Baxter said of having repairs done by the season opener. “… Can it be done? I’ve heard some early things that it is possible, but, clearly, it’s going to be very difficult.”

One big issue: whether all the damaged areas can be ready for the season opener; specifically, the clubhouse.

RELATED STORIES: Fire breaks out at Fifth Third Ballpark


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