More than $ 3 million in upgrades planned for BG Ballpark | news

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“Everything is powered by Major League Baseball,” said Doug Gorman, chairman of the EDA.

What local baseball fans will notice is that the Tampa Bay Rays team that landed at Bowling Green as the centerpiece of the downtown tax hike funding district in 2009 is still playing while many other small minor league stadiums have been silenced.

As part of the minor leagues reorganization, MLB cut 43 teams last year, reduced the number of affiliated clubs to 120, and left cities like Lexington and Jackson, Tennessee without professional baseball.

Such a fate for Bowling Green would have been disastrous, Gorman said.

“Having a dark stadium would have been too big an obstacle to overcome,” he said. “The Hot Rods are great family-oriented activities and are the engine that keeps many things going downtown.”

Gorman admits he was initially “very concerned” about the downsizing of MLB’s minor league system, but said the planned upgrades to the EDA’s own Bowling Green Ballpark will improve the experience for both players and fans.

The biggest effort in the ballpark improvements is installing LED lights for the pitch.

“It’s going to cost about $ 700,000,” said Gorman, “but it’ll save us a lot of utilities.”

Other upgrades are mostly geared towards the players, coaches and referees.

This includes expanding the visiting team’s clubhouse and offices for coaches and managers from both teams, as well as creating better training rooms for both teams and changing rooms for female referees.

“Major League Baseball says whatever you have for the home team you have to have for the guests,” said Gorman.

These improvements follow other upgrades, including a new playing field installed five years ago and a state-of-the-art video scoreboard that made Bowling Green attractive to the Rays and MLB.

“The Tampa Bay Rays love this city and the facility is in good shape,” said Gorman.

The EDA should be in good shape to repay the bonds, Gorman said.

He said that for 2019 $ 3.8 million in salary and sales tax receipts were repaid by the state to the TIF district. He expects a slight decrease in payments for 2020, which should come in October, but is optimistic that 2021 revenues will reflect a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We hope calendar year 2021 will be our first year of revenue in excess of $ 4 million from the state,” he said.

Not all baseball upgrades are designed solely for the benefit of players and coaches.

Gorman indicated that sections 119, 120 and 121 will get new, larger seats and food and drink rails.

The “Bud Zone” field is also being redesigned. It will have a roof structure as well as a bar and catering area.

Gorman hopes work will begin shortly after the playoffs are over.

“It’s a pretty big upgrade,” he said. “We signed a 10-year deal with the Rays and Major League Baseball that said the upgrades must be completed by the start of the 2023 season, but we’re trying to get that much done before the first field next year as possible. ”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

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