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Thursday, August 17 Business

Bridgeport baseball moving on from Harbor Yard

With baseball’s days likely numbered at Harbor Yard, the University of Bridgeport is ready to move forward with plans for an upgraded field at Seaside Park.

The university this week announced a partnership with the city to renovate Diamond No. 1 at Seaside Park into an NCAA-regulation field that will eventually have 500 seats, a press box, dugouts and other amenities. A price tag on the project was not immediately available.

“It will be constructed in two phases, so what we’re planning now is contingent on what we can get done starting so late in the year,” said George Estrada, UB’s vice president for facilities, who said the field should be ready for play next spring.

The seating and other additions would likely be added next year.

UB will provide a two-to-one investment match to design and develop the baseball diamond and other assets. UB did not provide a cost estimate, but said it will establish an initial budget and timeline, as well as assume responsibility for future maintenance of the field.

The site served as UB’s home field for 50 years before Harbor Yard’s construction, Estrada said, and the university is looking forward to playing its home games closer to campus. The city and a development team this week announced plans to remake the Ballpark at Harbor Yard into an amphitheater for concerts and other events, pending City Council approval.

Mayor Joe Ganim and the university initiated discussions almost a year ago to collaborate and restore the Seaside Park field, according to a news release.

“We are pleased to partner with Mayor Ganim and the city of Bridgeport to participate in such a wholesome, multibeneficial venture,” said UB President Neil A. Salonen. “Baseball is one of America’s favorite pastimes, and to be able to provide a clean, safe and upgraded facility for our men’s baseball team and all of the community to enjoy is a top priority.”

UB athletes as well as local community teams, including from the city’s high schools, will able to use the field.

“We’re pleased to partner with the University of Bridgeport to provide this additional sporting facility at Seaside Park,” Ganim said. “It will be enjoyed and utilized by so many teams, community leagues and, of course, support youth activities and family fun throughout the city.”

In 2013, UB worked with Bridgeport to build Diamond No. 2, a new softball field also at Seaside Park, to benefit community teams and the school’s softball program.

“We are excited that the University of Bridgeport and the city of Bridgeport are partnering again to develop an NCAA premier baseball field to complement the existing NCAA premier softball field,” said John Torres, executive director of Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders, in a statement. “BCYL’s young ladies have enjoyed the environment the softball field has provided for developing and honing their softball skills, which has translated to increased confidence on and off the field. The BCYL boys are now eagerly looking forward to the renewed baseball field.”

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