Jerry Uht Park
|Location||110 East 10th Street
Erie, PA 16501
|Owner||City of Erie|
|Operator||Erie Co. Conv. Center Authority|
|Field size||Left Field – 316 ft
Center Field – 400 ft
Right Field – 328 ft
|Broke ground||July 27, 1994|
|Opened||June 20, 1995|
|Construction cost||$9 million
($14 million in 2015 dollars)
|Architect||Lescher Mahoney Sports
Weber Murphy Fox
|Project manager||Heery International|
|Structural engineer||MC Engineers, Inc.|
|Erie SeaWolves (EL) (1995–present)|
Jerry Uth Park is a baseball park located in Erie, Pennsylvania. It is the home of the Erie SeaWolves, the city's Minor League Baseball (MiLB) franchise. It hosted its first regular season game on June 20, 1995, with the SeaWolves defeating the Jamestown Jammers following José Guillén's decisive home-run. Jerry Uht Park replaces Ainsworth Field, which was built in 1947, and features natural grass and dirt playing field. The concessions include regional specialties such as pepperoni balls, ox roast sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and Yuengling beer. It is part of the Louis J. Tullio Plaza, which also comprises Erie Insurance Arena and the Warner Theatre, all governed by the Erie County Convention Center Authority. The stadium's capacity is 6,000 seats.
In a 2008, the ESPN sports broadcast company ranked Jerry Uht Park number five out of ten Minor League ballpark seating arrangements. They especially noted its unique mezzanine level that overlooks the infield along the first-base side. In July 2015, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also ranked the stadium number five among the most vegetarian-friendly Minor League ballparks.
Prior to Jerry Uht Park's construction, the Erie SeaWolves (then known as the Welland Pirates) played at Welland Stadium in Welland, Ontario. They moved to Erie after owner Marvin Goldklang relocated the Erie Sailors to Wappingers Falls, New York (where they became the Hudson Valley Renegades) because he did not want to upgrade Ainsworth Field to the standards Major League Baseball required of its affiliated clubs. Once the civic government secured an $8 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to build Jerry Uht Park, the Welland Pirates moved to Erie. The remaining $1 million for architectural expenses were covered by the City of Erie, Erie County, and the 300-member Team Erie, each of whom contributed $300,000. Additionally, nearby Millcreek Township also contributed $25,000. The ballpark site was originally home to a Sears building turned Exhibit Hall. Groundbreaking ceremonies took place on July 27, 1994 and Jerry Uht Park was completed in May 1995.
Gerard T. "Jerry" Uht, Sr. was a minor league baseball player and longtime Erie resident. In 1995, he established a $500,000 endowment with PNC Bank and the Erie Community Foundation to perpetually support the downtown baseball stadium. In response to his generosity, the city named Jerry Uht Park in his honor. As of January 2007, the Erie Community Foundation continues to manage the fund, valued at $750,000. The Erie Times-News indicated that the fund is designated for stadium maintenance expenses and equipment purchases.
Seating along Jerry Uht Park's first and third base lines has a unique configuration due to the space constraints of an urban construction. There are three main concession stands and a picnic area for fans, plus six luxury suites for special occasions. The ballpark is known for its two distinctive grandstands, each with its own design.
In 2006, Jerry Uht Park was renovated at a cost of $4 million. Additions included a new 40-foot (12 m) electronic scoreboard (which has a nautical theme featuring "Erie" spelled out with international maritime signal flags), a two-tiered picnic area, eleven luxury box seats, and new concession stands. An additional videoboard was added to Erie Insurance Arena, which borders the stadium, that displays scores from other Eastern League games, player statistics, and information about the Detroit Tigers. Jerry Uht Park's batting zone resembles that of Comerica Park in Detroit, exaggerating the contour of the regulation home plate.
In spring 2012, a new 33-foot (10 m) wall was constructed along Jerry Uht Park's border with Erie Insurance Arena. The Erie Times-News dubbed it "the Gray Monster," an allusion to Fenway Park's Green Monster in Boston. Despite the wall's height, the home-run marker was maintained at 17-foot (5.2 m). Its construction was part of the $42 million renovation of Erie Insurance Arena, which lies a mere 312-foot (95 m) from the left-field boundary. Additionally, the left-field pole was moved from its original 312-foot (95 m) from home-plate to 316-foot (96 m) and the batting cages were relocated from left-field to right-center, near the scoreboard.
Professional Sports Catering manages the concessions at Jerry Uht Park, offering a typical ballpark menu of hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, and peanuts. Some more local specialties include the local pepperoni balls, ox roast sandwiches, and cheesesteaks. The most distinctive concession is the Smith's Sausage Shack, which grills German bratwurst, Italian sausage, Polish kiełbasa, and Cajun sausage along with the Pennsylvania-brewed Yuengling beer. Options for health-conscious, vegetarian, and vegan customers include veggie burgers and burrito bowls. Pepsi has exclusive pouring rights at Jerry Uht Park for soft drinks.
- "Jerry Uth Park". Erie County Convention Center Authority. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
- Knight, Graham. "Jerry Uht Park". Baseball Pilgrimages. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
- "Jerry Uht Park". Retrieved September 24, 2011.
- "Jerry Uht Park". Erie County Convention Center Authority. 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2015.
- Pahigan, Josh (May 10, 2008). "The Best of the Minor Leagues". ESPN. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
- Moore, Heather (July 27, 2015). "The Top 5 Vegetarian-Friendly Minor League Ballparks". People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Retrieved November 27, 2015.
- Howard, Pat (May 10, 2012). "Erie Insurance Arena Makes Debut". Erie Times-News. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
- "What's in a name: Jerry Uht Park named after generous local donor". GoErie.com. Retrieved November 27, 2015.
- "Annual Report 2005" (PDF). Erie Community Foundation. 2006. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
- Flowers, Kevin (January 19, 2007). "Uht Fund Pitches in Relief for Ballpark Renovation". Erie Times-News. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
- "Jerry Uht Park". Minor League Baseball. February 9, 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
- Copper, Mike (April 3, 2012). "Jerry Uht Park's Left-Field Wall Sees Massive Change". Erie Times-News. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
- "Professional Sports Catering, LLC, expands to the Eastern League". Pro Sports Catering. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- "What to eat at Jerry Uht Park". The Ballpark Guide. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
- "Jerry Uht Park". Stadium Journey. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
- Jerry Uht Park (Erie SeaWolves official website)
- Jerry Uht Park (Erie County Convention Center Authority official Website)
- ESPN's Travel Ten: The Best of the Minor Leagues
- A View from My Seat
- Stadium Journey visit
- Ballpark Reviews visit
- Ballpark Guide visit
- Ball Parks of the Minor Leagues visit
- Rochester Area Ballparks visit