BB&T Ballpark gains ‘Major League’ improvements

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Today the Sun-Gazette continues its annual review of the past year’s major news stories.)

In early November of last year, the Crosscutters — who were working on the UPMC Susquehanna Logger’s Landing, an outdoor, restaurant-style seating area, at BB&T Ballpark — surprisingly received a state grant they had applied for that was declined a month prior.

That grant, which would help complete the Logger’s Landing and spur on further construction projects, was approved in response to murmurings in Harrisburg about Major League Baseball and Little League Baseball International creating the first-ever Little League Classic at BB&T Ballpark.

“That sat there for awhile on the state’s agenda, but it wasn’t approved,” said Gabe Sinicropi, vice president of marketing and public relations for the Crosscutters. “When things started being talked about that this game could be happening at BB&T Ballpark, it spurred the state and Gov. (Tom) Wolf to approve the $1.25 million grant.”

Anthony H. Visco Jr. Architects has worked on projects at BB&T Ballpark since the Geneva Cubs became the city’s home team in 1994. The firm’s team was working on the landing when it received the grant.

“We didn’t know what was going on,” said Anthony H. Visco Jr., president of the firm. “During that time, it was probably a month that was top secret that we didn’t know what was going on. In November, we were brought into the fold and told that MLB was looking to play here in August.”

The firm was hired by the Crosscutters to renovate the box seats, netting and the dugouts while MLB spent more than $1.5 million on renovating the field.

“It really was a combination of local monies, Crosscutters’ money and a great deal of money from MLB and the state of Pennsylvania that made it all happen,” Sinicropi said. “At the end of the day, we had virtually a new stadium.”

Construction on the stadium lasted until days before BB&T Ballpark was scheduled to reopen on June 20, with box seats being installed as late as June 14.

For Visco, the experience of working alongside MLB and working to renovate BB&T Ballpark was a new endeavor.

“It was a unique process to work on,” Visco said. “It was exciting to do but sometimes very frustrating… and we had to do it in a compressed time to boot.”

When baseball fans came to the first game of the season this year, they were welcomed by the Logger’s Landing, all-new seating and a spotless field.

“This project is what’s going to keep professional baseball viable in Williamsport for years to come,” Sinicropi said.

He added that having the newly renovated stadium aired on live television was a plus: “The benefit of having BB&T ballpark on the national stage really helps legitimize the Crosscutters and just helps us make our dot on the Minor League Baseball map a little bit bigger.”