Despite a few errors, fansfind new stadium fabulous

Last updated: April 05. 2013 11:54AM - 3747 Views
By - psokoloski@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6392



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MOOSIC — Through long hours and freezing temperatures, Chuck Anstett and a team of sheet metal workers raced to beat the clock on the completion of a revamped PNC Field.
They did it for a season full of moments like Thursday's.
A team with a new name and mostly new players returned to Moosic to play minor league baseball for the first time in two seasons when the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders made its debut against the Pawtucket Red Sox.
But the real star of the show was the team's new-look home.
“I love the new stadium,” said Dan Wojciechowski, a White Haven resident and New York Mets fan who was awed by PNC Field's fan-friendly look. “I was here 20 years ago to watch the Red Barons. It's a complete full-circle from the old stadium.”
Quite literally.
With it's wrap-around concourse, absence of a hulking second deck and super-sharp, high-definition scoreboard, the new PNC Field was a sharp contrast to its predecessor — which opened in 1989 as Lackawanna County Stadium. And the differences seemed to strike the fancy of most area baseball fans who witnessed its opening Thursday.
“This is my first time here,” said Richard Hahn of Daleville, who was enticed by advertisements for the park's opening to make his first trip to watch a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Triple-A baseball game. “I like this. Everything is spotless. I just hope they keep it that way.”
To ensure fans an impressive opening-night experience, Anstett and crews kept at it through crunch time, “Seven days a week, 12 hours a day, nonstop,” he said.
The Pittston resident and former Wyoming Valley Conference baseball star at Bishop Hoban is employed as a sheet metal worker for Local 44 in Wilkes-Barre, and said his team finished installing metal around the stadium last Friday — just in time for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's season opener.
“The toughest part of this project was getting done on time, getting out here every day in below-zero temperatures,” Anstett said, standing on the right field concourse where people were passing in crowds four-deep. “My family was put aside, my life was put aside. We didn't even know what day of the week it was. But it was a fun project because we knew we were all going to enjoy this area.
“It turned out great.”
It turned into something people from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's baseball past could barely recognize.
“It's state-of-the-art, unbelievable,” said Marc Bombard, one of the most popular managers in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre history when he managed the Red Barons in the late 1990s and early 2000s. “I got to go in the clubhouse, it's like a Taj Mahal — unlike back in the days.”
Not everything was extraordinary on opening day.
Fans complained about parking delays as stadium lots filled up nearly 30 minutes before the first pitch.
“With the traffic, a lot of people didn't get here on time,” said Paul Noone of Scranton. “If I was coming for the first time, I wouldn't come back because of the traffic situation.”
“Not enough parking,” one woman snarled.
And in some cases, not enough efficiency at the concession stands, according to some fans. “Forty minutes in line to get a stale bun,” scoffed Leo Wyshock from Factoryville.
And some people who helped reconstruct the stadium didn't get what they expected, according to Anstett. “They promised us they would give us tickets for today,” Anstett said. “(Instead), I got a jersey.”
But most fans who packed the stadium for the opening of the renovated PNC Field got what they came for. “It's so different,” Wojciechowski said of the stadium. “It's great for the kids, it's great for the family. It's fun.”
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