UPMC Park

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UPMC Park
UPMC Park Erie.png
UPMC Park.jpg
Former names Jerry Uht Park (1995–2016)
Location 110 East 10th Street
Erie, Pennsylvania
United States
Coordinates 42°7′37″N 80°4′48″W / 42.12694°N 80.08000°W / 42.12694; -80.08000Coordinates: 42°7′37″N 80°4′48″W / 42.12694°N 80.08000°W / 42.12694; -80.08000
Owner City of Erie
Operator Erie County Convention Center Authority
Capacity 6,000 [1]
Field size Left Field: 316 feet (96 m)
Center Field: 400 feet (120 m)
Right Field: 328 feet (100 m)
Construction
Broke ground July 27, 1994
Opened June 20, 1995
Construction cost $9 million
($14.1 million in 2017 dollars[2])
Architect Lescher Mahoney Sports
Weber Murphy Fox
Project manager Heery International[3]
Structural engineer MC Engineers, Inc.[4]
Tenants
Erie SeaWolves (EL) (1995–present)

UPMC Park, formerly known as Jerry Uht 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, in which Major League veteran José Guillén hit a home-run to ensure a SeaWolves victory over the Jamestown Jammers.[1] The park replaced Ainsworth Field, which was built in 1947, and features natural grass and dirt playing field. Its 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 includes Erie Insurance Arena and the Warner Theatre, all governed by the Erie County Convention Center Authority. The stadium's capacity is 6,000 seats.[5] After the 2016 season, the SeaWolves partnered with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in a naming rights agreement to rebrand the stadium UPMC Park.[6]

In a 2008, the ESPN sports broadcast company ranked the ballpark 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.[7] 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.[8]

History[edit]

Prior to UPMC 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 UPMC Park, the Welland Pirates moved to Erie.[3] 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.[3] The ballpark site was originally home to a Sears building turned Exhibit Hall.[9] Groundbreaking ceremonies took place on July 27, 1994 and Jerry Uht Park was completed in May 1995.

Original namesake[edit]

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.[10][11] 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.[12] The name remained in use until a naming rights agreement with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) after the 2016 season resulted in a name change to UPMC Park.[6]

Features[edit]

Seating along UPMC 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, the 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.[13] 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. UPMC 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 the 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.[14]

Gallery[edit]

Concessions[edit]

Professional Sports Catering manages the concessions at UPMC Park, offering a typical ballpark menu of hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, and peanuts.[15] 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.[16] Options for health-conscious, vegetarian, and vegan customers include veggie burgers and burrito bowls. Pepsi has exclusive pouring rights at UPMC Park for soft drinks.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Jerry Uth Park". Erie County Convention Center Authority. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c Knight, Graham. "Jerry Uht Park". Baseball Pilgrimages. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Jerry Uht Park". Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Jerry Uht Park". Erie County Convention Center Authority. 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "New for 2017: UPMC Park". Ballpark Digest. September 19, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016. 
  7. ^ Pahigan, Josh (May 10, 2008). "The Best of the Minor Leagues". ESPN. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 
  8. ^ Moore, Heather (July 27, 2015). "The Top 5 Vegetarian-Friendly Minor League Ballparks". People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  9. ^ Howard, Pat (May 10, 2012). "Erie Insurance Arena Makes Debut". Erie Times-News. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  10. ^ "What's in a name: Jerry Uht Park named after generous local donor". GoErie.com. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Annual Report 2005" (PDF). Erie Community Foundation. 2006. Retrieved February 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ Flowers, Kevin (January 19, 2007). "Uht Fund Pitches in Relief for Ballpark Renovation". Erie Times-News. Retrieved February 23, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Jerry Uht Park". Minor League Baseball. February 9, 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  14. ^ Copper, Mike (April 3, 2012). "Jerry Uht Park's Left-Field Wall Sees Massive Change". Erie Times-News. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Professional Sports Catering, LLC, expands to the Eastern League". Pro Sports Catering. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  16. ^ "What to eat at Jerry Uht Park". The Ballpark Guide. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Jerry Uht Park". Stadium Journey. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 

External links[edit]