They Took Me Out to the Ballgame

Since I first stepped into All-Pro Freight Stadium in January of 2009, it looked like it was going to be quite the destination. I went back a few more times, chronicling the development, and knew I’d have to get there. Little did I realize it would take me ’til now to make it. Thanks to an outing sponsored by St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, I took my family and my extended family to a game Sunday night. Absolutely enjoyed ourselves! There were contests, and giveaways and contests, and then more contests in between the innings. The game was exciting, Cruisers vs the Crushers, and though the visitors won, the Crushers kept it close, losing only by a 6-5 score. Hope the video inspires you to make it out to a game!!

 

Home Opener for the Lake Erie Crushers

This is Opening Day for the Lake Erie Crushers as they take on the Windy City ThunderBolts at 7:05 pm!

Let’s take a peek inside the Stadium before everyone gets there. (Click on photos for a larger view.)

The field from the 3rd Base side of the park.

This is the view from one of the loges behind home plate. As you can see, there’s really not a bad seat in the park.

Here’s the complex as viewed from straight-away center field.

The park has 4-top seating called “Terrace Tables.” For $60, you get a table for 4 (tickets included), and a server to wait on you and your friends, so you can concentrate on the conversation and the game, without worrying about when the concession lines are short.

Let’s run into the Gift Shop real quick, known at All-Pro as the “Fan-Attic.”

They have assorted Crushers ballcaps with logos like these:

 

 Souvenir bats,

 

 

in a variety of colors.

There’s LOTS of T-shirts,

mugs for those coffee-drinkin’ fans,

shot glasses,

and the ALWAYS popular foam finger.

A unique spin on the foam finger is the

 

foam bear claw, in honor of Stomper the mascot. All these and more in the Fan-Attic! So get ready, because it’s almost time for the ump to yell “Play Ball!” tonight at All-Pro Freight Stadium.

Ryan Gates, GM of the Lake Erie Crushers

Ryan Gates spoke last Wednesday at the Travel Information Center of Visit Lorain County. Here’s a sum-up of what he had to say:

The Frontier League is an independent league that’s spread out over the Midwest, and was formed in 1993. There are teams from as far north as Michigan; west as Missouri and Illinois, south from Kentucky and east from Pennsylvania. The teams are not affiliated with any professional teams. Players with the Crushers and other league teams come from a couple of different backgrounds. Some players played college ball, were successful in college, but, for whatever reason, were not recommended by the scouts, so they’ve turned to the independent league for another chance to shine.

There are players that were part of minor league baseball that were affiliated with teams like the Yankees, A’s, Mariners and Blue Jays, but due to injuries or not progressing quickly enough, or being passed over, never got a chance to shine. So, they turn to the independent leagues for a chance to play every day, to hopefully draw the attention of a major league team again.

Players salaries are much different than that of the majors. The entire 24-man roster will make $80,000 for the summer. Some of the players make the maximum of $1600 per month; the rookies will make $600 per month. So, it’s apparent these guys aren’t in it for the money. They’re here to hustle and play hard, and “hopefully get that last shot at professional baseball.”

The Crushers have signed 27 players, some from Florida and California, some locals. The maximum age on the team is 27years old. In baseball years, 27 is “getting up there.” The team’s manager has had great success on the field.

The ballpark will be ready on June 2nd. People driving by have seen the ‘bubble’ that’s been erected so the workers can continue with the inside work at the park. The bubble will come down within 3 weeks, and people will be able to see the inside. The field will be artificial turf. The chairs will be in next week, and will need to be installed individually. The most important things will be ready, they have to be. The dirt is a special polymer-clay that will wick the dirt away, helping with the drainage.

Besides the regular baseball games, they want to bring other events to the stadium. They want this to be about Lorain County, and not just Avon. Hopefully, there will be some draw from Cuyahoga County, as well. With the turf, there can be concerts, car shows, other baseball events, little league and high school games; you name it, they have the ability to host it down on the field. They can even host a football game down on the field.

There are 3,000 fixed seats inside the park. General admission seating will be on the hill in left field, bring a blanket and take in the game. There are 11 luxury suites that will be leased out on an annual basis. There is a club level, and people can purchase club level seats near the bases. There will be a picnic area, along the 3rd base side that will accommodate up to 400 people, that will feature an all-you-can-eat buffet. All said and done, the ballpark can host up to 5,000 people.

The general admission seats are $6 apiece. In the seating bowl, 2600 of the 3,000 seats will be $9 each, allowing them to provide 4,000+ tickets for under $10 apiece. Concessions will be affordable: hot dogs in the $2.50 – $3 range; beers at $4.50 – $5 maximum. There will be Specials nights, with Thursdays being “$1 drafts/$1 soft drinks”, Mondays will be “$1 hot dogs”. There will be promotional things at the ballpark, Fridays will be Fireworks Nights; Saturdays there will be giveaways and special appearances. There will be special days and discounts on foods, tickets. It will be an event at the ballpark this summer.

People say that baseball is just not “my thing”. There will be people that come down and won’t know the score at the end of the game, he guarantees it. Some folks that won’t know who won, and that’s OK. But everyone will remember that they saw their neighbors, friends and co-workers, their family, and that’s what this project is all about. Such a small stadium with such an intimate setting. It will allow you to interact with people, and it becomes a social atmosphere each night, which is what they’re looking to create this summer at the ballpark.

On Wednesday, May 13th, All Pro Freight will host a ‘Sneak Peek’ for the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce at the ballpark. Parking will be at All Pro Freight, just down the street, and shuttles will convey people over 10-12 at a time, and have mini-tours running at the ballpark. Information will be going out soon.

Back to the Ballpark

It’s been a little over 2 months since I got what Avon Mayor Jim Smith called “the 25-cent tour” of their new ballpark. Since the park has a new name (All-Pro Freight Stadium) and a new team mascot (Stomper), I sent another email to see if I could get another tour. This time I got what I call the “$10 tour.” (Click on photos for a larger view.)

From behind home plate

The upper level has been started for the loges, managerial offices, press room and more. The field is being put together, with the drainage lines being laid, infield dirt being raked and pressed, and the mound for the fans is ready to be seeded.

The field from the left side of the park

Gravel being laid over the drainage lines…

Drainage

The drainage system that is installed will have the field ready to play within 15-30 minutes after a hard rain.

The upper level and the loges.

View of the inside of the park from a loge.

The concessions stand.

Inside view.

The dugout

Laying and leveling the infield

I hope the Beer Garden is going to be big enough!!

Ticket windows

 

The view from the highway

 

View from the top of the mound, with the outfield in the foreground

 

 

 

A Year Ago Today…

I officially dedicated myself full-time to this blog. I had said my goodbye’s and left the nest.

It’s been fun. It has. It’s been more work, of course, but I don’t have to worry about work I’d spent quite a bit of time on, getting buried under another’s post an hour after I published. And there are times I had to dig deep and scrape just to get new material here to keep from losing everyone’s interest.

There are things that I planned on doing here that just didn’t happen. There are things I hadn’t planned on doing that I did, and I’m quite happy I made the time.

More buildings got knocked down before they fell on folks, and balloons lifted up in Wellington last year. First time, I believe, in the County. I had done this in August of 2007 and sent it to the County Commissioners. I posted this less than a year later. Coinky-dink? Maybe.

I kept up on my commitment to cover our Armed Forces last year.

I covered quite a bit of sports, but that was mostly an affair of the heart, rather than work.

I continued to spotlight Metroparks events. That was more love than labor, too.

I can honestly say, that even though it’s been more work going solo, it’s work that I love.

I’m making an effort to do more ‘County’ things, rather than ‘City of Lorain’ things. I was warmly welcomed by Avon Mayor Jim Smith for this article, and will do follow-ups as Opening Day approaches.

I think the busiest time, and the most news-worthy item around the area was the Bascule Bridge debacle.

So, a year has passed, and I’m a year older, wiser, and a bit more experienced. Whether that’s good or bad, only time will tell.

Thanks for your time, and your visits, and your input.

Time to get back to work.

Lovin’ it every step of the way.