Upgrades sought at Eastwood Field

NILES — A multimillion-dollar restoration project is under consideration for Eastwood Field with dollars being sought through the state capital budget for support.

The stadium, which broke ground in 1998, is owned by the city and leased to the Cafaro Co. for $1 a year under a 200-year lease, according to Law Director Terry Swauger who said the tenant is responsible for the electric bill up to $23,000 annually with the city picking up electricity costs in excess of $23,000 up to $46,000. The Cafaro Co. sublets the stadium to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

City Auditor Giovanne Merlo said an estimated $4 million in restoration projects are under consideration and officials are seeking $1.8 million in funding through the state capital budget, which was confirmed by Jordan Taylor, Mahoning Valley Scrappers general manager, as well as State Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, although a formal request hasn’t yet been submitted.

Although nothing is set in stone, Taylor said a number of ideas are under consideration, including field, clubhouse, lighting and scoreboard improvements. Major League Baseball sets some guidelines for facilities at the stadium, Taylor said, because the Scrappers are an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The improvements being considered for Eastwood Field are similar to improvements made at Progressive Field in 2017, Taylor said.

“We are basically trying to re-imagine the ballpark and see what we can do to enhance it for the next 20 years,” Taylor said.

Joe Bell, Cafaro Co. director of corporate communications, said details of who will cover the cost of renovations haven’t been finalized.

“It’s a good idea to recognize the facility should be upgraded now that they’re heading into their 20th year,” Bell said.

Newly-elected City Councliman at large Barry Profato, who chairs the community development and neighborhood stabilization committee, said he supports renovation efforts because the stadium is a business anchor with room to grow.

“We can’t overlook any opportunity to bring revenue into this community,” Profato said.

Councilman Al Cantola, 4th Ward, said during a Wednesday roundtable discussion where the issue was briefly mentioned, that he would like to learn more about the project and whether the city might incur additional costs should renovations lead to more use of the stadium for additional events.