A plan to fund improvements to Peoples Natural Gas Field, home of the Altoona Curve (Class AA; Eastern League), is needed to keep the team in central Pennsylvania.
Two proposals could generate revenue for a fund to enable maintenance and improvements to the ballpark. First, Logan Township is considering a plan to lessen its amusement tax on tickets and diverting the difference to a maintenance fund. Second, Blair County is considering whether to implement a hike in the hotel tax and putting that money toward the ballpark.
In both cases local property taxes would be unaffected; the amusement tax is borne by game attendees and the hotel tax is largely borne by tourists.
Under the plan, the Altoona-Blair County Development Corp. would administer the fund. We are not talking about a huge amount of money: it’s estimated that the improvements would cost $2.5 million and cover things like repairs to grandstand concrete and steel, upgraded lighting and a replacement of the field. From the Altoona Mirror:
Without a financial plan before the end of the year, this could “possibly” be the last year for the Curve in Altoona, [Altoona-Blair County Development Corp. President and CEO Marty] Marasco told supervisors.
“That’s the bottom line, but not likely,” Altoona Curve owner Bob Lozinak told the Mirror Friday.
“The league has been very patient with us for seven or eight years now,” Lozinak said. “They understand our situation. They don’t have a gun to our head.”
But after almost 18 years of use, Lozinak said the ballpark needs some major repairs and money to afford them.
Indeed, it’s hard to see a scenario where the team moves after the end of this season, and it’s important to note that the team didn’t first bring up the prospect of moving.
Peoples Natural Gas Field opened on April 15, 1999 as Blair County Ballpark. The Curve launched that same year as one of two teams added to the Eastern League as the result of MLB expansion.