Page 36 - Salem Magazine Spring 2014
P. 36

Cover Story
  Mike Tyler and Doc Shane helped make the new ballpark a reality in 1994 and 1995.
“I remember the night we turned the lights on for the first time,” Tyler said. “It looked so cool. We knew at that moment that we had a gem here and such a nice place to hang out.”
million estimate quickly ballooned to more than twice that. There was some community backlash when the final cost was known.
At the end of July, the team went on an extended road trip and when they returned the ballpark was good to go.
“Well, how was I supposed to know how much it would cost? We never built a baseball stadium before!” Taliaferro said in 1995. “We certainly didn’t know it was going to cost $12 million.”
“When we got the green light to start a home stand at the new ballpark, there was a staff of six of us and two interns. We basically worked day and night for seven days moving everything we could,” said Stan Macko, stadium groundskeeper. “We had to maintain both fields for a bit until the city said it was finally ready. It was a cool thing to be a part of because we didn’t have any idea what we were doing, but we were having fun doing it. It was a blur of a week and very crazy.”
During construction, the affiliation contract with the Pirates expired. With a brand new stadium, Salem became a hot commodity and essentially had the freedom to choose what franchise to bring in.
“With the new stadium on the horizon, we were in the driver’s seat,” Lazzaro said. “We had organizations coming to us that were interested. The New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros came to us, and the Pirates didn’t really want to leave. But Colorado was an up-and-coming expansion team and they were willing to spend money for a good farm system.”
The week culminated on August 7, 1995 with the grand opening of Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium in front of a crowd of 6,421 fans. The Avalanche beat the Frederick Keys 3-2 in a marathon 15-inning game. After the game, Shane realized he had made a minor blunder with the stadium design.
Instead of adopting the Colorado Rockies nickname, Lazzaro and his staff looked for something original. They settled on the Avalanche.
“I placed the umpire locker room right next to the visitors locker room, which ended up being a mistake,” joked Shane. “An umpire made a bad call and one of the visiting players
kicked the umpire door in after the first
game! The door had to be
The new Salem Avalanche started the 1995 season at Municipal Field with hopes of moving into the new stadium during the year. Billboards were sold and skybox and season
The final game at Municipal Field was played on July 30, 1995 in front of a packed house. The Avalanche lost to the Kinston Indians 8-3.
SPRING 2014 |
Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, the chosen name, was set to be built to Double-A standards with the ability to expand to a Triple-A capacity. Many city departments, such as the Street and Building Maintenance, Water, Electric and Engineering Departments, played vital roles in the construction. However, costs escalated and the $5
tickets were bought, but the facility wasn’t quite ready.
“We asked for a fast track project and so many different city departments worked together and got it done,” said Mike Tyler, Building Maintenance Superintendent. “It was a fun project because it was out of the norm. Even the small things like welding
  the foul poles here in the shop were fun.”
The project had its hiccups during the winter, which included
keeping the concrete warm enough to cure in the cold conditions. By the time summer rolled around, the stadium was nearing completion and the lights were up for testing.

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