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The Phillies won’t be leaving Reading, as ballpark funding is secured

The Reading Fightin’ Phils received $7.5 million from the state to renovate 70-year-old FirstEnergy Stadium and stay in compliance with MLB.

FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Reading Fightin' Phils, will get a $16.5 million upgrade.
FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Reading Fightin' Phils, will get a $16.5 million upgrade.Read morePETER TOBIA / File Photograph

The Phillies’ minor-league affiliate will remain in Reading after funding was secured Friday in response to a threat earlier this year from Major League Baseball that the team could be pulled from Berks County if the 70-year-old ballpark was not upgraded.

The Reading Fightin’ Phils, who are owned by the Phillies, said they received $7.5 million from the state and $3 million each from the City of Reading and Berks County. The Phillies are contributing $3 million to the planned $16.5 million renovation project of FirstEnergy Stadium.

MLB overtook the operations of the minor leagues in 2020 and consolidated each team’s farm system. Each minor-league team is now considered a “licensee” to Major League Baseball and has to meet certain requirements to keep that license. If not, MLB could strip the team of its license and move the team to a different town.

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The double-A Fightin’ Phils were told that their ballpark — FirstEnergy Stadium — fell short of “health and wellness requirements” because the locker rooms, weight rooms, and eating spaces needed to be improved. Without upgrades, MLB could move the Fightin’ Phils — the Phillies’ affiliate since 1967 — to a place like Trenton or State College, Pa

The team said the renovation project will include a building behind the right-center field wall that will house player clubhouses, manager’s offices, coaches’ offices, a locker room for women, training rooms, player dining areas with a kitchen, batting tunnels, bullpens, a weight room, and supporting areas for both teams. These areas, the team said, will meet the requirements of MLB.

“We are so very thankful to our elected-officials from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Reading, and the County of Berks, who all worked very hard to achieve this solution”, Scott Hunsicker, general manager of the Fightin’ Phils, said in a statement “We are excited for the future of FirstEnergy Stadium, as we continue to work hard to ensure that America’s Classic Ballpark remains a family-friendly show piece for our Baseballtown Region, and something that we all can be very proud of.”