Teamwork saves minor league baseball in Reading
It’s hard to imagine a better place to honor teamwork than in a baseball stadium, a place where success is impossible without people taking action.
Last week’s celebration of teamwork focused on the stadium itself, as community leaders came together to mark their success in finding the funding needed to improve the FirstEnergy Stadium.
The event took place after the state announced it was providing $ 7.5 million for the stadium renovation project. This is a grant from a program for the construction of regional economic and recreational improvement projects. This money – added to a total of $ 9 million pledged by the team, Reading and Berks County – ensures that there is enough money to cover the cost of the stadium upgrades required by Major League Baseball.
Things weren’t going so well as summer approached, and news of MLB’s standards for minor league stadiums spread. It would take millions of dollars to rehabilitate the 70-year-old FirstEnergy Stadium. And if the organization did not make the necessary changes, there was a possibility that the Reading Fightin Phils would move to a city with facilities that met all the requirements.
But within months, there were no longer fears that Berks would lose one of his most beloved institutions.
It was not a foregone conclusion. Raising the necessary money required bipartisanship at a time when it was sorely lacking. And there were potentially powerful political arguments to be made against funding this project. Direct government financial support to private entities, especially professional sports organizations, is not for everyone. There are potential objections to this on both sides of the political spectrum.
But in this case, the Republicans who run the county government and the Democrats who control town hall immediately intervened, followed by lawmakers on both sides.
The reason is clear. It’s Baseballtown. The national pastime has been deeply embedded in the fabric of this community since the early days of the 20th century. For over 50 years, the Philadelphia Phillies have operated a branch here, and summer nights at the old baseball stadium are deeply loved, even by people who aren’t sports fans. FirstEnergy Stadium has a nationwide reputation for being one of America’s best places to watch a game. The idea that he could disappear is unfathomable. Our political leaders – urban, suburban and rural – have recognized this. It’s a rare example of something that binds us together in these times of division.
There will be upgrades to the existing baseball stadium as well as the construction of a two story building beyond the right field wall. It will house the house and visitation pavilions, a women’s locker room, batting tunnels, lifters’ pens, a weight room, a team dining room with a kitchen, a team laundromat, a space for equipment storage and other upgrades. Construction is scheduled to begin in September.
What makes this news even better is that the improvements to the stadium will serve the community even when the games are not being played. Fightin Phils general manager Scott Hunsicker said part of the space is designed to host big events when the team is not playing. It will offer a breathtaking view of the land.
We cannot stress enough the importance of making this project happen.
After all the hardships that reading has endured, it is imperative that our community continues to have easy access to this fun, family-friendly activity. A trip to FirstEnergy Stadium is a celebration of this community’s heritage. It is something that had to be preserved.
Fightin Phils are essential to the economy, quality of life and identity of our community. In an era when MLB has shrunk the number of cities hosting big league affiliates, having one here says a lot about our community and makes it clear that this is a great place to live, visit and have fun. business. We are grateful to have leaders who realize this.