Less than two weeks after the Binghamton Mets were re-christened the Rumble Ponies, the organization is already making noise. At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, owner John Hughes announced that NYSEG Stadium, home of the Rumble Ponies, will undergo $2.5 million in upgrades prior to the 2017 season.
Hughes stated enhancing the experience of fans as one of the main motivations behind the project. The stadium’s fan-centric features will include a playground area, performance stage for live music, picnic seating areas and an ever-regionally appropriate spiedie barbecue stand.
“By investing in the fan experience, we will transform NYSEG Stadium from a ballpark into a regional entertainment destination for families, supporting the revitalization we’ve seen in Downtown Binghamton and beyond,” said Binghamton Mayor Rich David.
According to the Rumble Ponies, the improvements will also include a new bullpen, batting cages and improved lighting. The facility’s batting cages, which are currently located underground and are prone to flood damage, will be moved aboveground. Lighting structures will feature energy-efficient bulbs that meet Minor League Baseball guidelines.
“This is big; this is game-changing,” David said. “By investing in our player development facilities, we’re showing the New York Mets that for decades to come, Binghamton and this ballpark is the rightful home for their Minor League prospects.”
Two million dollars of the project’s funding was secured by Sen. Fred Akshar and New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan through the State and Municipal Facilities Program of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. The remaining $500,000 will be provided by Hughes’ company, Evans Street Baseball Inc. The investment is the largest in the history of the stadium.
Construction has already begun and is projected to be finished by the end of March — two weeks before the Rumble Ponies’ first home game. Local companies will be contracted to carry out the renovations.
“One of the biggest parts that I’m proud of is the fact that we’re going to do all of this locally,” Hughes said. “We’re using our great friends here over at Keystone [Contracting Corp.] that have helped come up with these renderings. We’re going to put local people to work here; we’re going to get local entities involved in our project.”
Improvements to the stadium are the latest in a series of changes for the organization. Last winter, Hughes took over as owner, quelling fears that the team would be moved out of state. In the spring, fans were given the chance to submit and then vote on name suggestions. The winner — Rumble Ponies — was revealed earlier this month.
Initial discussion of the upgrades began between Hughes, David and Akshar shortly after Hughes purchased the team and arrived in the city of Binghamton last winter. The team behind the project believes the enhancements will help change the ballpark into a destination in the Southern Tier.
“I truly believe that Binghamton and the Southern Tier [are] on the cusp of a resurgence,” Akshar said. “For decades, NYSEG Stadium has played a very important role as part of the Downtown entertainment landscape. Today is an exciting day for Binghamton and our region.”