Brian Spagnola, co-owner of the Amsterdam Mohawks collegiate baseball team, said he expects between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors to the city’s Shuttleworth Park this year, thanks to renovations and improvements funded mostly through the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency.
The previous AIDA board gave $120,000 for improvements to the park’s baseball field, home of the Mohawks, and an additional $15,000 for improvements to the bathrooms in November.
Come spring, the baseball field will have a new concession stand, new bleachers, an 80-foot party deck that can accommodate 250 people and an air-conditioned luxury suite.
“We sell entertainment. A lot of people don’t watch the game; they hang out, and it’s a real community-minded family event,” Spagnola said. “It’s more about the show we put on rather than baseball. Purists might not like that, but it’s the way it is.”
Spagnola said games often feature stunts such as a helicopter dropping $1,000 on the field, the team’s mascot parachuting onto the field, free haircut nights and fireworks displays.
Last year, the Mohawks more than tripled their attendance, attracting 15,000 visitors to the ballpark. With the various improvements, Spagnola said he expects to double last year’s record.
The party deck, which is designed for corporate outings, is already booked for eight of the team’s 21 home games. He said companies such as the Target Distribution Center and Noteworthy are booking the party deck for their employees.
“Most local companies want to give their people something to do, and we serve beer now, which is a big draw for corporate after-hours [events],” Spagnola said.
Work on the park has continued through the winter. The wood frames of the concession stand, party deck, luxury suite and bleachers are complete. City Recreation Director Rob Spagnola said the construction crews are waiting for spring to put the finishing touches on the projects.
The park’s bathroom facilities are also receiving a face-lift. He said the previous bathrooms had a type of foam insulation covering the ceilings that was decaying. Crews ripped it out to find a wooden frame, which has since been refinished.
“The ceiling was covered with this mold and mildew. It was disgusting. We were really lucky to find this underneath,” Spagnola said about the ceiling.
He said the bathroom’s floors are being refinished, and new sinks and vanities will be installed.
The city has had trouble with vandalism in the park, an issue Rob Spagnola said is a nuisance throughout Amsterdam, so the outside wall of the pavilion has been covered in metal, which can be cleaned more easily.
He said Shuttleworth Park is a destination place in the spring and summer. Last year, ParkFest, a three day event, brought 15,000 people into the park.
“Everyone used the bathrooms and they were such a disgrace,” Spagnola said. “This year, everyone will have nice new facilities.”
The Mohawks are scheduled to open their two-month summer season on June 7.
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Categories: Schenectady County