Bruce Brodoff Communications
Bruce Brodoff Communications
Mayor Giuliani and Speaker Vallone Celebrate Start of Construction of Minor League Ballpark in Coney Island
August 22, 2000

Professional Baseball Will Return to Brooklyn After 43 years; Ballpark Ushers in New Era of Economic Development and Growth for Legendary Neighborhood

Fans Will Choose Team Name Through Daily News/WFAN Contest

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani was joined today by City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, City Council Member Howard L. Lasher, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Finance Robert M. Harding, New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President Michael G. Carey, New York Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon, and Joan Hodges, wife of legendary baseball great Gil Hodges, to celebrate the start of construction on the permanent home of the New York Mets' minor league baseball team.

The ballpark is expected to be open by June 2001 and will have an initial capacity of 6,500 seats, with the ability to be expanded to 7,500 should there be a need for additional seats.

"This is a very exciting day for baseball in New York City," said Mayor Giuliani. "A little more than one year after bringing professional baseball to Staten Island, we are bringing professional baseball back to the borough where some of its most indelible memories were created. The Mets minor league team will surely add to Brooklyn's reputation as a legendary sports borough, as well as provide an inexpensive form of entertainment the whole family can enjoy. Most importantly, the presence of this baseball team in Steeplechase Park will be a significant step forward in the economic revitalization of this part of Brooklyn."

Located just a few blocks from the busy Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue subway station, which is scheduled to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation, the ballpark will create new jobs, help draw people to the neighborhood's existing attractions, and accelerate the re-development of the Coney Island amusement area.

Based on the proven success of the Staten Island Yankees minor league team, it is expected that thousands of fans will visit the ballpark on game day, arriving early or staying late to enjoy such world-famous institutions as the New York Aquarium, the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, Nathan's, as well as one of the world's greatest beaches.

"The construction of this ballpark at Steeplechase Park constitutes a significant step by the City to rehabilitate and develop the Coney Island area of Brooklyn," said Deputy Mayor Robert M. Harding. "We just broke ground on Mermaid Commons, an $11 million public/private initiative that will bring new residential and commercial development to Mermaid Avenue, and are now exploring other steps to support the area's redevelopment. One possibility includes the creation of a local development corporation that would focus on the development of amateur sports facilities in the neighborhood."

Approximately 700 jobs will be created during the ballpark's construction and corresponding site improvement work. Once the ballpark is open, the team will have a 38-game home schedule (with the possibility of up to four additional home play-off games), and the right to stage non-game events that could include scholastic and athletic events, concerts, and other community activities. These games and events, along with the City's right to stage up to 35 events per year, will create approximately 240 full and part-time jobs.

"Thanks to Mayor Giuliani's vision, Brooklyn will have baseball once again," said EDC President Michael G. Carey. "I also want to thank the New York Mets organization for bringing professional baseball back to Brooklyn and for its investment in Coney Island and this great borough."

New York Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon said, "I'm thrilled that our organization will write the next chapter in the hallowed history of Brooklyn baseball. Brooklyn fans deserve to see great baseball, and I pledge to bring some of tomorrow's big league stars to Brooklyn today."

In addition to creating jobs and revitalizing Steeplechase Park, construction of the ballpark will also bring many improvements to the surrounding neighborhood. While West 16th and West 19th Streets between Surf Avenue and the Reigelman Boardwalk will be closed and converted into parkland, three 24-hour pedestrian corridors will be constructed to maintain public access to the waterfront. Portions of the world-famous boardwalk will be rebuilt, and the landmark Parachute Jump ∆ Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower - will receive some needed repairs.

Mayor Giuliani has also appropriated $11 million for improvements to the surrounding area that will include playgrounds, a lifeguard station, additional public restrooms, shade pavilions, an information kiosk, and volleyball courts.

As part of the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Giuliani will cast the first ballot in a contest - open to the public ∆to choose the name of the new team. The New York Daily News and WFAN-AM 660 sportstalk radio will help promote the contest, through which fans will be able to vote from August 27th until September 15th.

"If there is one thing the Dodgers were famous for, it was the close ties the team and its players had to the people of Brooklyn," said Jeffrey Wilpon, Executive Vice President of Brooklyn Baseball Company. "We're determined to bring back that same sense of closeness and neighborliness with Brooklyn's new baseball team. Right from the start, when they actually choose the team's name themselves, fans from Coney Island to the Brooklyn Bridge will know that this is truly their ballclub."

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