Are the Fightin Phillies leaving Reading?
Major League Baseball has notified the Reading Fightin Phillies that they have to upgrade their ballpark or else they could lose their team.
The Fightin Phils, living up to their name, aren’t going away without a fight. The club is currently working with the state to secure funding for the necessary repairs and upgrades. The 70 year old ball park located in Berks County has until 2023 to improve FirstEnergy Stadium. General Manager Scott Hunsicker has stated that they have “no intention of ever leaving Reading.”
Major League Baseball overtook operations for minor league teams last winter and consolidated each team’s farm system. Each minor league team is now licensed to Major League Baseball and has to meet certain requirements to keep that license. If not, the team will find themselves in a situation that Reading is currently in, and could see their team move to a different town.
The current stadium falls short of “player health and wellness requirements.” Locker rooms, weight rooms, and eating spaces need to be improved. According to local newspapers, the cost would be around $15 million.
Statement from Hunsicker:
“We’re hopeful that we can come to a solution. We know there are other stadiums around the country that might meet those requirements. I know in the state of Pennsylvania, Williamsport and State College were contracted and do not have an affiliated ball club this year. I know Trenton, New Jersey does not have an affiliated double-A ball club any longer. So we are very mindful of the risks here if we are unable to renovate FirstEnergy Stadium. That’s why we’re working hard.”
The Fightin Phils are majority-owned by the Phillies and the ballpark is owned by the city of Reading. They have been an affiliate of the Phillies since 1967.
Around the minor leagues, Trenton lost its double-A affiliation and are currently hosting the triple-A Buffalo Bisons while the Toronto Blue Jays play their home games in upstate New York. Williamsport and State College also lost their teams and have ballparks that are either newly built or recently renovated.
Mandatory Credit: Reading Fightin Phillies