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State grant to give Curve new field
10/31/2008 7:24 PM ET
ALTOONA -- The Altoona Curve today announced that the team has helped to secure a $1.3 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for renovations to Blair County Ballpark, including a brand-new playing field, which will be completed in time for the 2009 baseball season. The announcement was made at a Friday morning press conference hosted by Pennsylvania Senator John Eichelberger and attended by Curve president and managing partner Chuck Greenberg and other state and local officials.

Funding for the project will be provided by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RCAP). Senator Eichelberger, State Representative Rick Geist, the Blair County Industrial Development Authority (BCIDA), the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation (ABCD Corp.) and Lakemont Partnership all played key roles in securing and facilitating the funding.

The new grass playing surface and drainage system will replace the existing field, which, despite a life span of 5-7 years, has been in place since Blair County Ballpark opened in 1999. Work on the field project at BCB will begin immediately and is expected to be completed before the new year, weather permitting.

"This project is badly needed because the playing field and drainage system were no longer suitable for professional baseball," said Greenberg. "Last season, we were forced to postpone or delay games unnecessarily and it was a daily struggle to fulfill our duty to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Major League Baseball to provide players with a safe and reliable playing surface. We are deeply appreciative of the vision and leadership displayed by Governor Rendell and Senator Eichelberger for their primary roles in providing the funding, to Representative Geist for getting the ball rolling by including this project in the new capital budget, and to the BCIDA, ABCD Corporation and Lakemont Partnership for serving as key facilitators of the funding process. We are also proud of our own role in assuring that Blair County's ballpark will once again have a first class playing surface at no expense to the County."

The field replacement will yield a sand-based, high performance USGA concept sports turf system. The entire existing playing surface, including infield and warning track areas, will be removed in order to prepare for the new field construction. A new gravity-based drainage configuration will be constructed so that water will not be trapped near dugouts or on the warning track. The result will be a drainage system which can withstand a "10-year storm event" and will be playable within 60 minutes of such an event. The new sod will be a thick-cut, sand-based Kentucky bluegrass. In addition, a new infield, pitcher's mound and home plate area will also be created.

Cleveland-based Sports Construction Group, LLC will be the general contractor and handle construction of the new field. The firm has extensive experience with professional, college, high school and community facilities nationwide. SCG constructed the original playing surface at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field) in Cleveland, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, and is currently constructing the field for New Yankee Stadium in New York. Among Minor League clubs, the Eastern League's Harrisburg Senators and the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in Allentown are also former clients of SCG.

Fans will be able to follow the construction project through online photo galleries, which will be posted regularly at www.altoonacurve.com starting next week. The Curve will play their first game of the 2009 season on Thursday, April 16 at 6:35 p.m. against the rival Erie SeaWolves (AA/Detroit Tigers). 2009 Curve Season Tickets, Mini-Plans, Flex Books and group outings are currently on sale and can be reserved by calling the Curve offices at (814) 943-5400 or toll-free at (877) 99-CURVE. Curve ticket information is also available by visiting AltoonaCurve.com.