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Classic Park in Eastlake set to receive $4.3 million in upgrades

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Posted at 9:48 AM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 10:25:58-04

EASTLAKE, Ohio — Eastlake City Council has unanimously approved an agreement with the Lake County Board of Commissioners for multiple ballpark improvements at Classic Park.

The agreement provides funding for clubhouse upgrades using the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program.

Recent guidance from Major League Baseball mandated a series of renovations/upgrades to the clubhouse as well as other player safety protocols to reduce the potential for contact spreading of the COVID-19 virus.

“It's a stark reality. Either we step in or the Captains close,” said Lake County Commissioner John Plecnik. “That's the reality. The Captains were told you need these upgrades completed before the start of your next season.”

The City of Eastlake is responsible for maintaining the stadium. When the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season, it placed a significant economic burden on the operating revenue generated from the ballpark.

“We see about 2,000 additional hotel room nights because of the teams, because of the fans coming in. It really showcases our community,” Plecnik said.

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Canal Park in Eastlake.

The upgrades to the ballpark cost $3.6 million and include a renovated clubhouse and weight facility as well as improved dressing rooms for umpires and other ancillary staff. Additionally, Classic Park will receive new lighting that costs $700,000 for a total price tag of $4.3 million.

“It's mission-critical. This is the showcase of the West Side of Lake County,” Plecnik said. “

Renovations to Classic Park bring the facility in line with Major League standards and come at a time when the club was recently promoted to the High-A affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians.

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Canal Park in Eastlake.

Had county and city officials not come to an agreement on the improvements, there was a significant reality the Captains would have lost their affiliation.

“I don't think the Captains would have made it through COVID and the government shutdowns without their major league affiliation,” Plecnik said. “Being the taxi squad for minor league teams shut down during COVID and the captains were holding on by a thread.”

Classic Park attracts approximately 200,000 guests each year and generates an annual economic impact of $5 million in Lake County. The upgrades provide an opportunity for that impact to grow in the future.

“Players get promoted every season. That’s part of minor league baseball. But teams getting promoted? That’s unheard of,” Plecnik said. “Because the captains held on, we went up an entire level of play. The hotel rooms, the fans, the potential just goes up exponentially because of the fact that the team was promoted.”

The new lighting at the ballpark is in place for this season while the clubhouse and weight room renovations will be completed before the 2023 campaign.

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