The Lehigh Valley IronPigs/Syracuse Chiefs opening series set for NBT Bank Stadium will instead open at Coca-Cola Park, with a doubleheader scheduled for Friday — with no fans allowed in to watch the beginning of the season.
Why the shift? In a word, weather. An unplayable field at the home of the Chiefs means the first two games of the four-game series will move to the IronPigs home. The games are not open to the public and no fans are permitted to attend these games, as work at the ballpark will not allow the gates to be opened. The two other postponed games from the opening series will be made up at NBT Bank Stadium, with the dates to be determined. However, fans won’t be totally shut out:
“On behalf of the International League, we’d like to thank the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for hosting these two games at Coca-Cola Park on extremely short notice,” said International League President Randy Mobley. “These were unforeseen circumstances but it’s extremely beneficial to both teams along with their parent clubs to get the season underway this weekend.”
“We’re sympathetic to the uncontrollable weather issues in upstate New York this weekend,” said IronPigs President and General Manager Kurt Landes. “As a fellow member of the International League alongside the Chiefs, the IronPigs organization is doing everything it can on short notice to assist the Chiefs and the league in their efforts to ensure that two games are played this weekend. Unfortunately, we’re unable to open Coca-Cola Park to the public for these games due to safety issues concerning installations with contractors and vendors on-site in anticipation of our home opener on April 14.”
Fans won’t be totally shut out: the games will be broadcast on Service Electric TV2 Sports and MiLB.TV.
This isn’t the first time a game has been played under these circumstances: in 2008 the Iowa Cubs (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) did not open the doors to Principal Park for a game against the Nashville Sounds, as flooding caused Des Moines officials to call for a voluntary evacuation order. That same flooding caused issues for the Quad Cities River Bandits and Clinton LumberKings (Low A; Midwest League) and heavily damaged Riverfront Stadium, home of the Waterloo Bucks (summer collegiate; Northwoods League).