MOOSIC ‚?? PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, is being fully renovated while the team management‚??s approach to the game is undergoing a makeover.
Rob Crain, the 31-year-old president/general manager of the New York Yankees‚?? Triple-A affiliate, said the RailRiders‚?? 2013 season theme will be about ‚??community.‚?Ě
‚??This will be a great place for family entertainment,‚?Ě Crain said Wednesday in his temporary office on Montage Mountain. ‚??This is where families and baseball fans will go for a good time.‚?Ě
In past years, attendance suffered because many fans felt the team failed to provide a lot of promotions to attract people to the games.
The season will begin at 7:05 p.m. April 4, when the team faces the defending International League champion Pawtucket Red Sox in a rematch of their 2012 playoff clash.
‚??That‚??s 70 days from today, but who‚??s counting,‚?Ě he said.
The anticipation is building for this new season in a new ballpark with a team with a new nickname.
Fans can get a glimpse of the $43 million renovated stadium on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when guided tours will be given by RailRiders‚?? personnel.
‚??We‚??re pumped,‚?Ě Crain said. ‚??People will get a better understanding of what‚??s going on here on Saturday. We‚??re going from a stadium to a ballpark.‚?Ě
Crain said people will be surprised by what they see on the tour. He said the top of the new light standards marks where the old concrete stadium seating decks stood.
The ballpark is 360 degrees ‚?? you can walk around it and stop and watch the game from rails without obstructing anyone‚??s view. Fans can sit and picnic on the lawn in right-center field and two party pavilions are down each foul line ‚?? the Bud Light Rail House Bar in right field and the Kost Tire & Auto Party Pavilion in left field.
The midnight blue seats being installed are larger than before, Crain said. All the seats in the club area are padded. Club-level suites can be rented per game and single and double units will be available.
‚??My philosophy is we are changing from offering 72 baseball games to presenting 72 events,‚?Ě Crain said. ‚??This ballpark will be the summer event center for Northeastern Pennsylvania.‚?Ě
John Sadak, director of media relations and broadcasting, said Saturday‚??s public showing will give fans a real feel for the new ballpark.
‚??You can show as many artist‚??s renderings as you want, but to actually be here and see it is far more impressive,‚?Ě he said.
The new stadium will have character ‚?? from the stone outfield walls to the mountainside backdrop to the rich green turf of the playing field.
A bridge in left field overlooks the home and visiting teams‚?? bullpens. Fans can linger there and cheer for their favorite RailRiders or ride the opposing team‚??s hurlers.
Crain said there are 27 full-time employees in the front office and that will increase to 31 by opening day. He said the team will employ about 250 when the season starts, and Legends ‚?? the stadium food and beverage vendor ‚?? will have 600 more working in part-time positions during the season.
Fans interested in purchasing ticket packages will have the opportunity Saturday to select the seat they purchase and see its view in person. New RailRiders merchandise will be available for purchase as well. CHAMP, the RailRiders‚?? mascot, will be assisting with tours and will be on hand to entertain fans and pose for pictures.
‚??The chance to sit in a seat, see the exact gorgeous, up-close view it allows and purchase it on the spot -- that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,‚?Ě Crain said.
The construction at PNC Field has been ongoing since the groundbreaking on April 30, 2012. Crews have been working double shifts since Jan. 7 to get ready for opening day.
The public is invited to tour the renovated PNC Field on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
‚?Ę Regular season game ticket prices are $12 and under, and special group rates are available.
‚?Ę There will be 72 home games, and team officials said each will feature a promotion for fans.
‚?Ę Stadium seating capacity is 10,000.
‚?Ę For more information, call the team at 969-2255.