On Oct. 11, Binghamton’s City Council voted to approve a new bond ordinance for improvement projects at Mirabito Stadium, the home of the Rumble Ponies, the double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
The $4.5 million ordinance was unanimously approved in a 7-0 council vote and will go toward improving the stadium’s ailing drainage system, which the team’s owner said was necessary, in order for the Rumble Ponies to be able to play their required number of games. The organization has been the only professional baseball team in the Binghamton area since 1992 and remains an integral part of local culture. The team has recently seen increased attendance to their games, according to a June report indicating a 52 percent increase in attendance compared to 2022.
Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham described the finances involved in managing the city’s $99 million annual budget, 10s of millions of which is spent annually on upgrades to infrastructure.
“Major League Baseball set forth the expectations for the 2024 season, and the city is responsible for the work under the 2021 lease agreement,” Kraham wrote in an email. “When we signed that lease, the city decided keeping professional baseball in Binghamton was an investment worth making. It was met with a lot of positive feedback from residents at the time who did not want to see our community lose another institution … We’re keeping our commitment — to the team and the residents — with this work to the stadium.”
In the deliberations, Aviva Friedman ‘14, a Working Families councilwoman, who eventually voted in favor of the ordinance, said she struggled with the decision.
“I don’t love it,” Friedman said, adding that she hoped the city would fix the infrastructure in the area.
The bond ordinance’s passage comes after several investments in the city’s infrastructure, including a recently announced plan to build a $40 million affordable housing project in Binghamton’s First Ward. The legislative move follows multiple minor league teams and stadiums being forced to shut down across the country over the last few years.
Kraham expanded on the partnership between Binghamton and the team.
“[Binghamton] has a great relationship with Rumble Ponies ownership and staff,” Kraham wrote. “The Sobotkas — [the family owning the team] — have made clear they are committed to keeping professional baseball in Binghamton and improving the community however they can in the process.”
The move fits into a broader goal of Kraham’s administration — investing in the local entertainment industry, improving resident quality-of-life and ensuring a memorable Binghamton experience for Binghamton University students, encouraging them to stay after graduation.
In a statement, the Rumble Ponies thanked Kraham, acknowledging the need to keep baseball in Binghamton.
“Our thanks to [Kraham] for his ongoing work to keep professional baseball in our city,” the statement read. “While many areas have lost their teams as their stadiums have fallen out of compliance, [Kraham] has worked side-by-side with the Rumble Ponies as a problem solver to make sure that baseball remains alive in Binghamton and accessible to everyone in our community.”
Seth Schlank, a junior majoring in psychology, said he was fond of Binghamton’s local baseball scene.
“Rumble Ponies games have been great,” Schlank wrote. “Mirabito Stadium always has been an amazing time to catch a ball game.”