SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s a busy off-season at NBT Bank Stadium as the ballpark undergoes Phase One of planned improvements.
New seats have been installed for most of the lower level. Crews are in the process now of tightening all the parts and putting the finishing touches on them.
Archie Wixson is overseeing the project as the commissioner of the Onondaga County Department of Facilities Management.
“It’s a better seat, it’s a little bit larger seat, it’s going to be more comfortable for folks, and it will have cup holders,” Wixson says.
The upper deck will now have high quality, long bleacher seating, with colored backrests.
As part of the Mets agreeing back in 2017 to stay in Syracuse for the next 25 years was a deal to make improvements to the nearly quarter century old baseball stadium.
The $25 million project is being funded equally by Onondaga County and New York State.
Wixson says, “The county is very excited to see the progress here, I know the Mets are too. I speak with the Mets every week.”
He says there will be a section behind home plate that will be terraced so that shaped tables, swivel seating, and hi-tops with stools can be installed there to add a new fan experience.
“That’s the practice now in the professional baseball is to give that full experience to our patrons here,” Wixson tells NewsChannel 9.
It’s the same idea behind a new feature at NBT Bank Stadium that fans will find at the ends of the first and third base lines on the lower level, basically lawn seating.
Wixson explains, “You’re going to be able to lounge out here have an experience like you’re right out on the field because you’re on a synthetic grass it’s going to feel like you’re right there.”
All the work will reduce the seating capacity some, but will keep NBT Bank Stadium above the 10,000 mark, which is customary for minor league baseball stadiums.
Fans will also notice a new paint job visible from the parking lot of the stadium and also on the inside of the stadium. Familiar Mets blue and orange are prominent on stadium fixtures, like the light stands.
Any day now the lights themselves will be taken out and replaced with new LED lights from Syracuse’s own Ephesus Lighting, in time for opening day on Friday, April 17.
Phase one also includes moving the left field fence in closer to home plate to match the dimensions of Citi Field where the New York Mets play their games. That should be done by opening day.
Other improvements, Phase Two, will be under construction throughout the season, like a long bar tavern behind the left field fence, party deck behind the right field fence and improvements to the Hank Sauer room.
Those are all expected to be ready for opening day in 2021.
Wixson says, “We care about the culture of Syracuse. Our initiatives to bring the city back, we’re not stopping, we’re continuing with this. We’ve done it at our parks, we’ve done it at our amphitheater, we’ve done it at our zoo, we’re doing it here, and we’re doing it out in the community too.”
The Syracuse Mets invite fans to their 7th annual open House from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m on March 7 at NBT Bank Stadium.
The event is free. The open house will give fans the first opportunity to see the new renovations that the stadium has been undergoing during the off-season.
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For more local news, follow Jeff Kulikowsky on Twitter @JeffNC9