One of the more anticipated events in independent baseball will unfold on Memorial Day, when the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL) begins its first season. There are ceremonies lined up for May 30 to commemorative both the launch of the USPBL and Jimmy John’s Field, the league’s ballpark in Utica, MI.
The launch of the USPBL and Jimmy John’s Field was something we profiled in-depth earlier this year. For its first season, the league will have three teams that are based out of the same ballpark, with each club playing a 50-game schedule. The Utica Unicorns, Eastside Diamond Hoppers and Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers are the USPBL’s charter members.
Jimmy John’s Field features several modern amenities, including an outfield concourse, several group and club spaces, and complete Wi-Fi accessibility. The ballpark’s capacity gives it room for about 4,500 fans, with a significant number of the spectators hosted in a grandstand that has been highly touted by the USPBL. With the ability to accommodate about 2,000 fans, the grandstand sits just 37 feet behind home plate. That is believed to be one of the shortest distances from the seating bowl to home plate in all of professional baseball.
Among the other options in the ballpark are grass berm seating—most of which will be located in right field—and four picnic areas. Jimmy John’s Field will also feature a large kids area that includes a wiffle ball field.
Fans can catch an early look at the ballpark as part of the opening ceremonies on Memorial Day. Beginning at noon, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring USPBL officials and local dignitaries. Once that ceremony concludes, there will be a series of pre-game events, including live music, an appearance by the Uitca High School Marching Band, ceremonial first pitch baseballs as delivered by skydivers, Team Ghostriders, a Color Guard of retired veterans, and much more.
First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m., with the Beavers facing the Unicorns for the USPBL’s first game.
Both the league and the ballpark get their identities from naming rights deals. Sandwich chain Jimmy John’s will have its name on the ballpark, while the rights to the league’s moniker were purchased by United Shore Financial Services.
The USPBL was started by General Sports & Entertainment, a Rochester, MI-based group led by experienced sports executive Andy Appleby. Its first season will conclude on September 8, with the All-Star Game taking place the following evening. The playoffs will unfold from September 10-11.