Since 1999, Eastwood Field has played host to more than 400 regular-season games and nine post-season contests. Now, the stadium is about to add All-Star host to its resume.
On Tuesday, the top players of the New York-Penn League will gather in Niles to take part in the league's annual All-Star game. The contest pits top players from the league's American League affiliates against their counterparts from the National League.
The NYPL All-Star game has been played annually since 2005. This will mark the first time the game will be at Eastwood Field and hosted by the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
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"We're very proud to get this. It's something I've pursued since taking over," said Scrappers general manager Jordan Taylor. "We put together a 30-page bid proposal at the baseball winter meetings, and we were confident the Valley would support the event if given the chance."
Indeed, area businesses and residents have responded. As of Thursday, 5,150 game tickets were sold. All of the stadium's suites were sold out by January.
Taylor hopes to have a sellout crowd in excess of 6,000.
When you go
WHAT: New York-Penn
League All-Star Game
WHEN: 7:35 p.m.
TICKETS: $10-18 (Eastwood Field Box Office, milb.com,
"In terms of fan interest and media recognition, this will be our biggest day since our first-ever game back in 1999," he said.
Out-of-town media will include SportsTime Ohio, which will be airing several live feeds from Eastwood Field during the course of the evening.
"The economic impact will be significant, with the number of hotels being booked, and the number of out-of-town players and executives who will be here for a couple of days," Taylor said. "And this is a great opportunity for the Valley to be showcased in a positive way."
Others in the area who have helped Taylor with the project share his excitement.
"This will showcase some of the best talent in the league, and it's an opportunity for the Trumbull County area as well as Niles area to shine," said Stephanie Sferra of the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau.
Niles Mayor Ralph Infante said he's excited for his city.
"It brings in people from out of town to see what Niles is all about and see the mall and the shopping center that's one of the biggest in all Ohio," he said. "This is great for the area because it entices other people to bring in big events."
Infante said this is proof of what he knew all along in spite of those who doubted the Scrappers early on.
"I think since putting the Scrappers there, it's really worked out well, and people thought it wouldn't. But now all of a sudden we've got an All-Star game here," he said.
Eastwood Mall Manager Ken Kolar said the mall is prepared to receive the flood of guests and he relishes the opportunity to show them what Niles is all about.
"I'm extremely excited about the All-Star game being here. Any time we can showcase our (mall) complex outside our prime trade area, we're very excited. We do not want to be a well-kept secret," he said.
And while the game is the main draw, it caps a two-day long series of All-Star events.
An All-Star Gala will held at 6 p.m. Monday at Packard Music Hall in Warren. Fans will have an opportunity to meet the players as they are individually introduced. Cuisine unique to the Valley will be available throughout the evening as well as drinks and live entertainment.
That is followed by an All-Star Luncheon on Tuesday at the Magnuson Grand Hotel in Howland. Former Cleveland Indians manager Mike Hargrove will be the keynote speaker for the event.
Eastwood Field gates open at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Players from both the American and National League teams will take part in an autograph session. A Home Run Derby is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m., and the game starts at 7:35.
Taylor said the first class of New-York-Penn League Hall Of Fame will be announced at the game as well, and fireworks and a post-game party with live entertainment will conclude the night.
Taylor said he's also excited to unveil some of the new things the organization has been working on.
Radio Disney will be present for the first time, with an interactive program at the front gate for kids before the game. The minor league traveling entertainment troupe, The Inflatamaniacs will make their first trip to the Valley as well.
"We're going to have some of our most popular between-inning activities for the game, too," Taylor said.
"We were looking to put together an event, not just an All-Star game," he said. "We want to make the Valley proud. And we want those visiting from out of town to leave with a great impression of the area."