Allentown City Council debates granting Lehigh Valley IronPigs $1.5 million

Written by on September 8, 2022

Allentown City Council debates granting Lehigh Valley IronPigs $1.5 million

By Hayden Mitman
September 8, 2022

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A decision that could prevent the Lehigh Valley IronPigs from leaving the region was pushed back once again this week, due to an undecided Allentown City Council. 

Over the past few months, the issue has become something of a pitchers’ duel of its own.

IronPigs officials say said they need to update Coca-Cola Park in Allentown to meet new league requirements or lose Major League Baseball (MLB) affiliation.

In a meeting Wednesday night, City Councilwoman Candida Affa said the MLB is “holding us hostage” with the required stadium upgrades.

“I personally, as a councilwoman, don’t want to be the council person that saw Coca-Cola Park and the ’Pigs leave the City of Allentown,” Affa said.

The team is requesting $1.5 million in federal American Rescue Act (ARPA) funds from Allentown to use toward facility improvements.

By April, the team needs to make about $9.5 million in improvements to meet league requirements.

But, Councilwoman Ce-Ce Gerlach argued that funds should instead be allocated to addressing other community issues, such as homelessness and anti-violence initiatives.

“I don’t want to know that we could have housed 100 more people — 50 more people — if we had $3 million or $1.5 million extra dollars,” Gerlach said. 

Gerlach also argued that what she called the potential for the team’s departure is being overplayed. She said Lehigh County — which owns the stadium — will step in if the city denies the request.

“The threat of leaving is being made so that we rush and allocate this money. They’re not going to leave,” Gerlach said. “The county is going to make sure that they don’t leave. The county is not going to allow the IronPigs to leave. It’s that simple.”

But, other council members say they aren’t so sure.  

Councilman Josh Siegel agreed with Gerlach’s concerns for the community, but argued that granting funds for the IronPigs wouldn’t mean denying funds to those in need.

“Allocating this money doesn’t come at the expense of that investment or that priority,” Siegel said. 

“The IronPigs are more than just a stadium. We know that they’ve spent $3.78 million dollars on youth and recreation programs.  They are heavily invested in making sure our kids here in the city get access to youth sports programs… It would be a tremendous loss to lose them as an asset and a cultural amenity.” 

Siegel also noted that the city has about $28 million in federal ARPA funds remaining, and the IronPigs request would require just a fraction of the money available. 

Affa said she wasn’t willing to risk the thought of losing the city’s minor league team, which is the Triple A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. 

“I don’t want to roll the dice and lose something that we’ve worked so hard for through these years. The representatives and everybody worked so hard to get them here,” Affa said.  

City council voted 4-3 to table the discussion — along with a $1.5 million request from the Da Vinci Science Center in center city — until its budget and finance committee meeting on Wednesday, Sept 28. 

A final vote is expected in October. 


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