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Architect wants baseball diamond to shine

Butler officials hope a Slippery Rock architect can polish a rough diamond in Butler.

Improvements to Pullman Park — which in its prime was home to minor league baseball teams for three decades — could make the park more attractive to a minor league team in the future and could lead a rejuvenation of the west end of the city, architect Lee Ligo said Tuesday.

Ligo is being paid $14,600 to devise plans for expanding the park’s seating to 4,200 from the current 1,200 as well as building new locker rooms, a press box, a concession area and private boxes.

Kelly Adamczyk, a spokeswoman for the Redevelopment Authority for the city of Butler, said minor league parks in Altoona, Erie and Washington have been successes.

Adamczyk said the entire wish list for improving the stadium could cost $4 million, half of which could come from the city and half from the state. Funding has not been secured.

The Pullman Park Board of Trust, which has been caring for and maintaining the field since a Pittsburgh Pirates farm club left town in the 1950s, got a $150,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, but Adamczyk said much of that money has been devoted to electrical work at the park.

Tom Burnatoski, a member of the Pullman Park Board of Trust, said New York Yankees Hall of Famers Whitey Ford and Joe DiMaggio were among those who played at Pullman Park, which was built in 1934.

The park is wedged in between homes and old industrial buildings, behind Pullman Center business park and near AK Steel Co. facilities.

About 200 collegiate, scholastic and league games are played there each year.

Baseball teams from Butler High School, Butler County Community College baseball team, the American Legion and other organizations play at the field each year, said Burnatoski, who is working at the field despite having quadruple bypass heart surgery 50 days ago.

Ligo said the preliminary design could be completed by early November.

He said attracting a minor league team might be a lofty goal, but even if a minor league team never shows up, Butler will have “a fine community facility.”

The trust has been able to pay for upkeep of for the park through rental fees and concession sales, trust President William Spawn said.


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