The effort to keep the Elizabethton Twins (Rookie; Appalachian League) in Elizabethton continues, as city officials will consider a proposal to upgrade Joe O’Brien Field.
Much discussion has taken place about the possibility of renovating Joe O’Brien Field, though no final agreement has come to fruition thus far. The city is now expected to take a closer look at a proposal to keep the E-Twins at the ballpark by executing a series of renovations.
If the project is approved, Joe O’Brien Field would receive upgrades that affect both the fan and player experience. A 5,000 square-foot clubhouse would be constructed to house both the home and visiting teams, along with player facilities such as a training room and weight room. On the fan side, the ballpark would be equipped with about 1,600 to 1,800 new seats. This plan comes with a cost estimate of about $1.5 million, covered by the proceeds of a bond issue.
The Elizabethton City Council is not expected to vote on the plan until at least August 10. In the meantime, leaders from the Appalachian League and Minor League Baseball have emphasized that Joe O’Brien Field has to be upgraded to meet MiLB standards. More from the Johnson City Press:
Lee Landers, president of the Appalachian League, attended Tuesday’s meeting and told the Council that the driving force in requesting the upgrades to the stadium were not coming from the Minnesota Twins but from the minimum standards of Minor League baseball. He said many other clubs in the league have recently upgraded their facilities.
Landers warned that if the Twins were to leave Elizabethton, there could be difficulties in getting a new team. He said current rules have minimum distances between competing teams, but Elizabethton is grandfathered. If a team did not play in Elizabethton for a season, that may no longer be true.
Pat O’Connor, president of Minor League Baseball, said the same thing in a letter to Mayor Curt Alexander, which was dated July 13.
“Over the last 25 years, baseball parks throughout Minor League Baseball have undergone tremendous growth and Major League clubs like the Twins must provide to caliber facilities to entice college and high school players to sign professional contracts, and thereafter, develop their talents.”
The E-Twins have a long history at Joe O’Brien Field, having played at the ballpark since they were established in 1974.
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