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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2002

Stadium may host movie nights

A section of the scoreboard is lowered into place at the Mud Hens' new home, Fifth Third Field. A section of the scoreboard is lowered into place at the Mud Hens' new home, Fifth Third Field.
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Muddy the Mud Hen may be playing host to more than just baseball games at Fifth Third Field this summer.

In the hopes of bringing nonbaseball fans into the new stadium, the Mud Hens may show family-oriented movies on the stadium scoreboard on nights when the team isn't playing in town.

“They're not necessarily going to be first-run movies, but we'd open up the ball park and admission would be minimal,” said Neil Neukam, assistant general manager of the Mud Hens. “We'd like to make it available for more than just the 72 Mud Hens games.”

Mud Hens and CitiFest officials met yesterday to talk about teaming up on the project with the mutual goals of generating more excitement about the $39-million stadium and bringing people downtown.

Jan Aguilar, executive director of CitiFest, said her group likely would promote the movie nights and take the lead in organization, while the Mud Hens would be in charge of the venue.

CitiFest runs the Rally by the River events.

She said she anticipates a schedule of about three or four movies the first year to gauge the response and possibly adding more in ensuing seasons. Once people are downtown, Ms. Aguilar said she thinks they will take advantage of other entertainment options downtown.

“The more people we can see coming downtown the better,” Ms. Aguilar said. “Over the years, we've seen we're not the only destination. If they come to a rally, we're just the first stop.”

Jim O'Neal, an assistant Lucas County administrator who is overseeing the stadium's construction, said showing movies would be a good alternative use for Fifth Third Field.

“There's going to be interest in the ballpark even by nonbaseball fans,” he said.

He said the stadium's scoreboard, which will be 17 feet by 22 feet, will be large and sophisticated enough to offer good display for movies.

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