UPMC Park

From BR Bullpen

History[edit]

UPMC Park in Erie, PA, is the home of the Erie SeaWolves, the Detroit Tigers' Eastern League farm team. Finished in May 1995, it was originally named for Gerard "Jerry" Uht Sr. - who played in the minors from 1948 through 1951 and set up a permanent endowment for the stadium the year it opened.

After the Erie Sailors of the New York-Pennsylvania League fled Ainsworth Field for New York state, the city broke ground for a new ballpark in July 1994.

"The Uht" lured the NYPL's Welland Pirates to town, then in 1999 landed an Eastern League franchise that kept the SeaWolves name and bumped the NYPL club to Niles, OH (where they became the Mahoning Valley Scrappers). Attendance runs in the low 200,000s, never higher than ninth in the twelve-team league. The University of Pennsylvania Medical Center bought naming rights after the 2016 season.

In between, the aging ballpark underwent a through renovation that without doubt saved professional baseball for its city. MLB's 2021 Minor League Reorganization reduced the minors by a net of 40 franchises, but within those cuts the net change in each of the 11 surviving circuits had to be an even number. Two lists leaked in late 2019 were nearly identical and included the SeaWolves and the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Perennially being the EL's bottom two in attendance made them logical candidates, and depending when they made the list their stadiums may have moved them from logical to obvious. Both could have been described as aging facilities past their prime; now, neither can be.

Based on media reports, each thinks it saved the other under the need for two. Perhaps this sets up a grudge series on a non-geographical basis?

Dimensions[edit]

  • Seating Capacity: 6,000
  • Left Field Wall: 312
  • Center Field Wall: 400
  • Right Field Wall: 328

Unique Features[edit]

What is now UPMC Park was thoroughly renovated after the 2018 season - so thoroughly that some say it was actually rebuilt.

The original ballpark, then called Jerry Uht Stadium, was built for Single A ball. As a result, the ballpark that soon stepped up to Double-A lacked features associated with newer ballparks at its level. The downtown location required that the park be built in a space less than a city block. In order to fit the park into this space, "The Uht" was built asymmetrically. Because of this design, many visitors describe The Uht as "two different parks put together". Along the third-base line leading into left field, the Uht had the feel of a Single-A park in an urban setting.

The third base grandstand was single-tiered with a large pedestrian walkway above the infield box, and a row of luxury skyboxes at top. Past the left field bleachers, the downtown skyline of Erie is set off by Tullio Arena which is home to the Erie Otters, a minor league hockey team. A long homer to left can easily land on top of the building's roof. Tullio Arena shares its locker rooms with The Uht in a conservation of space. In contrast, the first-base grandstands are double-tiered in a similar manner to many newer minor league parks. Past the right field bleachers, the view is of a residential neighborhood and is directly bordered by Holland St. In June, 2007, ESPN.com ranked the first base grandstands at "The Uht" #5 in the "top ten seats in minor league baseball".



Current ballparks in the Eastern League
Northeast Division Southwest Division
Dunkin' Donuts Park | FirstEnergy Stadium | Hadlock Field | Mirabito Stadium | Northeast Delta Dental Stadium | TD Bank Ballpark Canal Park | The Diamond | FNB Field | Peoples Natural Gas Field | Prince George's Stadium | UPMC Park