On a 4-3 vote, the Allentown City Council rejected a request for $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds for renovations to Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple-A; International League), saying it was Lehigh County’s responsibility as the ballpark’s owner.
The request came in response to new MiLB ballpark guidelines imposed by Major League Baseball after its takeover of Minor League Baseball.
The danger, according to IronPigs owner Joe Finley and IronPigs GM Kurt Landes: if the team doesn’t meet the new guidelines, the IronPigs could lose its team license. That doesn’t mean the IronPigs would go away, but it does mean the team could lose its status as the Philadelphia Phillies’ top affiliate.
The $1.5 million is part of a funding plan put together by the team, which also includes the state of Pennsylvania ($2 million), Lehigh County ($4.5 million) Northampton County ($200,000) and the team ($1.5 million). But this is still a very fluid situation: the Lehigh County contribution has been increased in recent weeks.
Here’s the response from the IronPigs:
Lehigh County and the IronPigs are committed to continuing to work together to close the remaining funding gap on the current construction project underway at Coca-Cola Park. Such construction was necessitated by Major League Baseball’s 2021 requirements of Minor League teams to update their facilities in order to operate within new facility standards by April, 2023.
Although disappointed by the votes of the four City of Allentown Council members at yesterday’s meeting, the IronPigs and Lehigh County are jointly committed to determining a plan to allow the already existing construction process to be completed on time in advance of Opening Day next season.
The IronPigs have signed a lease extension to play in Lehigh County’s Coca-Cola Park thru the 2052 season and the current construction will allow the IronPigs to meet MLB’s facility standards. The IronPigs will call Lehigh County and Coca-Cola Park home for decades and generations to come.