Team officials are expected to secure a major league affiliation next year.
(Summarized from today's Reading Eagle) -- Allentown officials have announced that a 7,000-seat stadium will be built on the city’s east side, scheduled to house a Triple-A ballclub by 2008.
Grace Baseball Company, operated by Reading Phillies owner Craig Stein and Trenton Thunder president and managing partner Joe Finley, entered into a 29-year lease agreement with Lehigh County.
Construction will be funded with revenue from the county’s hotel tax, a bond issue and a $17 million state grant.
The independent Allentown Ambassadors were the last professional team to play in the city, but folded three weeks before the 2004 season.
The Lehigh Valley, encompassing Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Phillipsburg, NJ, has been asking for legitimate professional baseball for an eternity. With Stein and Finley in charge, expect another minor league success story.
The new stadium will be built at the site of Allentown’s former Agere building on the east side of town, near the airport and accessible by Route 22.
The Lehigh Valley is starved for entertainment and rich with suburban families with serious dough. This is a slam dunk venture for Stein and Finley, and could work well as either a Phillies or Yankees franchise.
The region essentially splits allegiance between Philadelphia and New York, with more Yankees and Mets fans concentrated closer to the New Jersey boarder.