Following recent criticisms from the Detroit Tigers, officials emphasize that they are still working with the Erie SeaWolves (Class AA; Eastern League) to address UPMC Park‘s condition.
Last week, Tigers executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager Al Avila indicated that the organization has some concerns about UPMC Park, home to the Double-A affiliate SeaWolves. One issue in particular cited by Avila is the playing surface, which the Tigers say has fallen into poor shape.
When addressing Avila’s remarks, officials noted that a $12 million state grant request for UPMC Park upgrades was filed four years ago and that they are still lobbying for its approval. According to Erie Events executive director Casey Wells, a portion of the revenue from that grant is to be dedicated to repairing the playing surface. More from GoErie.com:
“We are aware of the need to upgrade facilities at UPMC Park. Erie Events has submitted a proposal to the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, requesting $12 million to renovate,” Mayor Joe Schember said. “In a meeting with local elected officials in April, everyone was in agreement that this was our number one priority. Grant awardees have not yet been announced, but I fully support the plans that they have for the park.”
If the grant money comes in, the playing surface will be addressed right away, according to Wells.
“A half million dollars of the improvements that would be made with the state grant is for field improvements at UPMC Park,” Wells said. “And regardless of that plan, we do that every six or seven years.”
“The grounds crew for Erie Events works hard to maintain the field with arguably the toughest weather conditions in the Eastern League,” [SeaWolves president Greg] Coleman said. “The last full-field replacement was in late 2007, and that makes their job even tougher. Everything in a facility has a lifespan, including the playing surface.”
UPMC Park, originally known as Jerry Uht Park, opened in 1995. The SeaWolves were members of the Short Season A New York-Penn League at the time, with Double-A action arriving to Erie in 1999. The SeaWolves have been affiliated with the Tigers since 2001.
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