Pat O‘Conner, right, president and CEO of Minor League Baseball, presents Toledo Mud Hens player Jordan Lennerton with a Gold Glove award in Toledo this spring. At left is Mr. Lennerton’s fiancee, Ashley Swistchew.
Blade/Andy Morrison Enlarge
In late April, I had the privilege of visiting Toledo as part of my spring travel and to make a Rawlings Gold Glove Award presentation to first baseman Jordan Lennerton of the Mud Hens. I am impressed by the Mud Hens’ proactive management and reinvestment in Fifth Third Field.
I regularly visit ball parks all over the country. One of my biggest concerns as I visit facilities that are 10 to 15 years old is whether the community and team have adequately prepared for the future capital needs of the ball park. Too often, I see communities invest millions of dollars to create a crown jewel, but fail to plan for the future.
In my conversations with Mud Hens General Manager Joe Napoli and members of the team’s board of directors, I was pleased to hear of the innovative, proactive, and cooperative approach taken by Lucas County and the Mud Hens. Fifth Third Field stands as a shining example of what happens when thoughtful planning, prudent management, and significant reinvestment are parts of an ongoing operational strategy.
The additions of the BirdCage Bar and Grill and Pub 315 keep the facility fresh. They undoubtedly contribute to the huge number of fans who continue to turn out long after the traditional honeymoon period for a new stadium.
I cannot wait to see the planned Hensville development take shape and come to fruition in downtown Toledo.
I left Toledo impressed beyond even my lofty expectations. The level of vision and the cooperation between the team and Lucas County in looking out for the facility’s capital needs made a positive impression on me.
As I continue to travel the country visiting our teams and communities, I will not hesitate to point out the cooperation and spirit guiding minor league baseball in Toledo. I will also encourage teams and communities to visit Toledo and talk to the principals about their successful facility management formula.
Chief Executive Officer
Minor League Baseball
St. Petersburg, Fla.