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Upgrades, Atlantic League in works for Staten Island ballpark

Staten Island YankeesWith MLB’s contraction of the Staten Island Yankees (Short Season A; NY-Penn League), the New York City Economic Development Corp. is looking at $5 million in Richmond County Bank Ballpark upgrades to potentially host Atlantic League games as well as other sports.

The new spending will be focused on new seating as well as a field reconfiguration and synthetic-turf installation, allowing for sports other than baseball to use the ballpark. There’s been interest by a professional rugby team in playing at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, and the new field configuration will also allow for soccer.

The ballpark was left without a main tenant with the contraction of the Short Season A NY-Penn League and the decision by the New York Yankees not to see a new MLB-licensed team for the venue. That left the ownership of the Staten Island Yankees out in the cold, though with a new options: become part of the new summer-collegiate Showcase League being organized by MLB, or potentially join the independent Atlantic League. The Atlantic League business model is different than the old NY-Penn League operating model–besides paying for players, Atlantic League team play a far longer season–while a Showcase League schedule is likely to hew closer to the NY-Penn League calendar. From the New York Post:

“This is a moment of time where we have to extract something more than the status quo,” [Borough President James Oddo] told The Post. “You have this great stadium that’s underused, and we have to make it a bigger part of the Island’s community than it’s been.

“It was a major investment in tax dollars to build, yet the stadium is dormant for the overwhelming majority of the year.”

EDC spokesman Chris Singleton said the agency is “disappointed” by the decision to drop the Baby Bombers but is “encouraged by the possibility of an Atlantic League team making the stadium home.”

The ballpark has been operating in tough circumstances in recent years, as construction impacted access to the facility. Still, it’s one of the more scenic ballparks in baseball, with lovely views of the Manhattan skyline beyond center field and easy access for commuters via the nearby Staten Island Ferry terminal.

Here’s the most up-to-date information about the current affiliation status.

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