Shorebirds unveil fan-friendly stadium improvements

For the first time ever, Delmarva Shorebirds fans will have the opportunity to catch the action from beyond the outfield wall from Arthur W. Perdue Stadium when the 2019 season gets under way in early April.

Last Wednesday, the Shorebirds hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the stadium’s brand-new 360-degree concourse deck, which wraps around the outfield.

The deck, which can be utilized by any fan who purchases a ticket to the game, includes drink rails and allows fans to stand and enjoy the game from a whole new perspective.

“Everybody’s pumped. The improvements are all about social space and being able to have a good time together,” said Shorebirds General Manager Chris Bitters. “We really wanted to pick a day where, once the projects were virtually done, come out and experience these things for the first time, have a ribbon-cutting and have the first beer on the deck.”

“It’s fantastic,” said Pat Filippone, the President of 7th Inning Stretch, the company that owns the Shorebirds. “I wouldn’t miss this event, because we’ve been talking about this, working hand in hand with the county and the state for five years now and to see it in action and get the first impressions from our fans is awesome.”

The open house was open to any fans and included complimentary food, beverages, private stadium tours and prizes.

In addition to the new deck, new tables and chairs were installed at the Hardball Cafe and the private suites at the executive club and luxury level were renovated as well.

“The Hardball Cafe came out great, I think people are going to be excited about that. The comfort level of those seats is great,” said Filippone. “The executive club is top-notch now, the upgraded TVs, the fans, the new carpeting and painting. It’s real nice and I think people are going to be impressed.”

While last year’s renovations and additions were more structural-based, Filippone was excited to have more fan-based renovations this spring.

“The comfort level of our guests for 70 games is paramount to what we try to do out here, and the fact that they can do things differently in 2019 and beyond is exciting.”

Before the idea of a concourse deck was pitched five years ago, Bitters said he hadn’t even thought about putting in a deck beyond the outfield wall.

“I never thought about a deck out there,” he said. “When we started on the renovations about five years ago, and our partnership with the state and the county, one of the firms who we had come in to kind of give us some ideas on what the renovations could look like, they came in with the idea of putting a deck out there.

“I thought, ‘man, look at that, we have to figure out a way to make this happen,’” Bitters continued. “Replacing seats is great, putting in new stadium lights is great, putting in new furniture in certain places is awesome, but really this is a brand-new hula hoop that this stadium has never had.”

For those fans interested in getting in some exercise while taking in a ball game, the walk from home plate, all the way around the stadium and back to home plate, is about a quarter-mile in distance.

“Everyone is so overwhelmingly positive,” said Filippone. “They really enjoy it, the unique viewpoints from out there, the drink rails. As cool as it looks now, once the players are there and the game is going on it’s going to be even cooler.”

Following the ribbon-cutting, Sherman the Shorebird led the group of attendees on the first official loop around the concourse.

“We appreciate the support we’ve gotten from the state and the county, but we also appreciate the fans coming out excited one month before opening day,” said Filippone.

The Shorebirds open the season on the road Thursday, April 4, at Lexington with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. Following a seven-game road stand, the Shorebirds play their home-opener Thursday, April 11, vs. Lakewood.

“We’re excited for warm weather and the season to get here,” said Bitters. “This time of the year, we’re just tired of the cold and ready to come out, turn the lights on and get this thing started.”

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