Changes Ahead in Reading and Lakewood

Lakewood is already in the post-season and Reading is holding onto the final spot in the Eastern League post-season, but both teams had other news to announce this week. Reading will get a stadium upgrade, while Lakewood is upgrading their logos and uniforms.

If you've ever been to the home of the Reading Phillies, you'll notice that the stadium is old school and that's because it's well... old school. FirstEnergy Stadium, as it's now called, was finished in 1951 and has the distinction of being the oldest stadium in the Eastern League. There have been a number of upgrades and renovations to the old place over the years, but the R-Phils announced the most sweeping renovations in the history of the stadium.

The commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the city of Reading and the Reading Phillies themselves will chip-in to come up with $10 million to carry out major renovations. The work will take place over the next two off-seasons and will transform the stadium in many ways.

Perhaps the biggest and most welcomed upgrade is one that fans won't ever see. The team locker rooms will be renovated to give players more room than they have now to work with. The current locker rooms are small and dingy, but will be redone to provide for a more comfortable environment for players on both teams.

The team will also add 450 parking spaces and construct a very much enlarged concession area behind the seats on the right field side of the stadium. Fans will also enter the stadium through a new entrance, which will bring them through the upgraded concession area when they enter the stadium, rather than having them enter from behind home plate.

The plans are relying on the approval of a $5 million grant from Pennsylvania.

The city of Reading opted for the renovation rather than a plan that would have built a new stadium in downtown Reading.

Meanwhile, in Lakewood, the BlueClaws are sprucing up their image with a new logo and uniforms. Pinchy the crab, who has been the focus of their current logo, will return, but with a much fiercer look and attitude (see the photo above).

"Our new look is part of our continuing effort to celebrate the spirit of family fun and entertainment at the Jersey Shore," said the team's GM Geoff Brown at the unveiling of the new logo. While the new logo won't be officially used until next season, new merchandise bearing the logo is available at the ClawsCove at the ballpark and on-line at BlueClaws.com.

The new uniforms were also modeled at the unveiling and will feature the new Lakewood font inspired by the town's boardwalk.

The uniforms will feature a white home uniform without the familiar blue pinstripes that Lakewood has worn. They will also feature both a blue and red alternate jersey and the traditional gray road uniform. There will also be various color combinations on the hats.

The home uniforms will make their debut next April 16 when the BlueClaws open the home portion of their schedule against the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

In addition to the logo and uniform changes, the BlueClaws also announced that any unused tickets from any game this season can be exchanged for tickets to one of their final three home games of the season on August 31, September 1 and 2.

"We've had a very rainy summer, and I know there are a lot of folks out there that have some tickets they haven't used," said Brown. "We feel this program can benefit a bigger number of fans than in any other year, which is why we decided to do it now."

Fans must first bring their unused tickets to the BlueClaws Box Office, where they will be given a ticket to a game of their choice. All exchanges are subject to availability. Unused picnic or luxury suite tickets are exchangeable for reserve seats.



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