When it was first announced in January that Major League Baseball had created a new set of standards for minor league stadiums in an effort to help improve the quality of life for its professional players, it seemed like a costly burden for the Reading Fightin Phils.
The team would have to spend $16 million to get the 70-year-old FirstEnergy Stadium up to snuff.
And if the organization failed to make the necessary changes, there was a chance the team could be taken away and moved to a city that has a facility that met all the requirements.
But instead of wallowing in fear, Reading Fightin Phils General Manager Scott Hunsicker came up with a plan for the team, the city and the county to each contribute $3 million to the effort. He said at the time that pot of money would enable the team to reach out to the state to fill in the remaining gap.
Several elected officials who represent the county pledged to do whatever they could to keep the Fightins in Reading, advocating for the stadium project to receive state funding.
Those efforts paid off in December when it was announced the stadium renovation project had been awarded the remaining $7.5 million grant from the state as part of a program to provide money for the construction of regional economic and recreational improvement projects.
The two-story structure will house the home and visiting clubhouses, a female locker room, two batting tunnels, two bullpens, a weight room, a team dining area with a kitchen, team laundry facilities, space for equipment storage and other enhancements.
But the structure will be for more than baseball.
Hunsicker said the team worked with a design firm to construct the building in a way that will allow the community to use the space — particularly the second floor — for events when the team is not playing that will include expansive views of the field.
Source: Berkshire mont