ERIE, Pa. — When you visit UPMC Park, you might not notice some of the limitations and lack of amenities.
The Erie SeaWolves said they try their best to offer a Class AA experience in a venue built for a Class A short season.
When UPMC Park opened as Jerry Uht Park 22 years ago, it was built for the shorter season, which runs from mid-June through Labor Day.
Fan Chris Oliver of Lockport, New York, said, “There’s lots of days that you’re sitting in the cold, maybe even a little bit of snow flurries. So, that would be a nice thing… (to) enclose it a little bit in the front, just so there is a little more coverage for the fans.”
Lawrence Park resident Bob Hiegeo addressed the facility’s lack of hot water.
“And especially when it’s cold like in April, you go to wash your hands and that’s pretty cold water,” he said.
The ballpark was built within the confines of a city block. That small space is creating some limitations, including small spaces for concessions and restrooms.
SeaWolves president Greg Coleman said, “Some of the amenities that are needed on a full-season, scheduled from April through Labor Day, might not have been needed for mid-June through Labor Day. And so, that’s why the ballpark was built and we understand why it was built that way, but it’s really time to address it.”
Coleman said the park needs to address water leaks and technology, such as the 10-year-old video board.
The SeaWolves and Erie Events, which operates the stadium, will split the cost of a $10,000 development plan or concept design from architectural firm Jones Petrie Rafinski.
The project, once designed and approved, could be paid for with a $12 million state grant for developments that the City of Erie is trying to secure.
Erie resident Sarah Adams said, “The more that things that Erie has to have their kids engaged and young families off the streets. I’d rather have the season be longer than shorter, for sure.”
That fits in with the SeaWolves’ hopes.
“What we’d like to be able to do is address some of the shortcomings in the building, but also create opportunities to bring more business downtown 12 months a year.”
Any possible renovations are dependent on recommendations and availability of funding.
The process is still in the early stages. The first renderings could be presented by the end of 2017.