Kevin at the Park: Experience at Bark at the Park

by Danielle Weaver, Human Resources Coordinator

By day, I’m the human resources coordinator at Erie Events, but after 5 p.m., I take on a completely different job: I’m a proud dog mom of two English Bulldogs named Kevin and Phoebe.

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Meet Kevin! He’s my English Bulldog and he loved Bark at the Park.

It’s no secret that those who live in Erie can’t wait to fast forward to summer. When the weather gets warm, one of my favorite things to do is attend Bark at the Park at UPMC Park. Bark at the Park is a night when fans can bring their well-behaved dogs to a baseball game! UPMC Park features six luxury suites, two picnic areas, three primary concession stands and a Bud Light Beer Garden, so there’s something for everyone – and now dogs, too! It’s a treat that the SeaWolves offered this special promotion for a night out with the fur babies.

Recently, my husband and I took Kevin to Bark at the Park. I even named his special night “Kevin at the Park”! Kevin loved his night! Kevin hung out at the Bud Light Beer Garden, but he had to take the elevator up because he’s not athletic enough to go up multiple flights of stairs.

Kevin really only accepts other bulldogs in his friend circle, and he made friends with a bulldog named Goose at Bark in the Park. A small feisty wiener dog went at Goose and Kevin legitimately had Goose’s back – I swear I’m not making this up! It was a good time for Kevin and we enjoyed it, too.

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Posing with Kevin. We’ll be back!

Bark at the Park brings all different kinds of people – and dogs – together for a night out. Having your dog at the park is a great ice breaker to meet other people. Dog owners might not have something in common, but your dogs might, and that drives a conversation.

If I could offer any advice for first timers taking their dog to the park, I would tell them to consider the heat and pack cold water. There is water served community bowl style, but bringing water will help. Doggy bags are key if there’s an accident, and if you have a bulldog (perhaps named Kevin), you will probably be carrying him back to the car by the end of the night!

 

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Update on Dierks Bentley Refunds and Presque Isle Concert

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We’re getting calls and messages on these two topics, so we want to provide some information to help everyone!

Dierks Bentley: The last of the credit card refunds have been processed and should be returned by this week. Unfortunately, it’s a lot quicker to take money out than it is to put it back in. We appreciate everyone’s patience with the cancellation and refund. We always work toward doing everything we can to put on a great show, but sometimes that cannot happen.

Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton: Presque Isle Partnership is working with the artists for a rescheduled date. Despite a “rain or shine” billing, the weather forecast Friday night made the concert a no-go for safety reasons. All of us at Erie Events are handling ticketing for this concert, and we can take any questions you may have regarding ticketing.

We’re always here to help — let us know if you have any other questions on these topics or others!

A Day In the Life of Our Groundskeeper

IMG_0033by Brandon Schanz, Head Groundskeeper

A picture of an employee gathering for employees who had been with Erie Events for 10 years hangs from a wall in my office. My 20-year plaque from the Erie SeaWolves is to its right on the other side of the wall. My walls say it all: I’ve been here ever since UPMC Park, then Jerry Uht Park, was built.

 

One clarification before we begin: saying “the walls in my office” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s really more of a shed behind centerfield, and I also have quarters in Erie Insurance Arena. If I had to actually pick an “office” for myself, it would probably be the field itself.

I wasn’t always in grounds keeping. I came out of high school in the summer of 1995 working in the kitchen area. By the end of the first season, I became assistant director of concessions at the age of 18. I worked there until 1998. I knew the groundkeeper at the time and he convinced me to join his staff in 1999. After my second year in that department, I became his main assistant and worked at the Warner Theatre in the winter. From there, I took over as head groundskeeper in 2004.

There’s hard days, certainly, but I wouldn’t have been here so long if I didn’t like it. The people I’ve met, the players I work with – it’s not too shabby. If you’re curious, Curtis Granderson was one of the nicest players and Matt Walbeck (who managed in 2007) was one of my favorite managers. One of my all-time favorite players was Josh Rainwater, a pitcher who played from 2008-2010.

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Always working with the team to ensure we’ve got it all right.

Before the team plays, my team is in charge of getting the field ready for them. We have a total staff of 17. There’s me, my assistant (full-time seasonal) and other part-time staff. Most have been around for over two years – their longevity in the job really helps us get a lot done efficiently.

Walking you through a typical day is difficult, but here’s this for starters: our day often starts at 8 a.m. and doesn’t end until an hour after the conclusion of the game. Yeah. We put in some long hours.

Cutting the grass once usually takes an hour of time. If we’re doing a new pattern, it can take up to five hours. It’s always fun thinking up new designs and doing things that haven’t been done. I don’t usually have a design in mind, though – I usually just get on the mower and see how I’m feeling.

My assistant usually works on the mounds and after that, the infields are taken care of and the dugouts are cleaned. We try to edge once every other homestand and we’ll sometimes do resodding if there’s a bad spot on the field. The field is fertilized every two weeks and once a month we aerate the field.

It’s all time consuming.

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The staff does work throughout the day to get the Park ready.

Time is of the essence here, as we have to get things done before batting practice. Our ability to get things done is especially hard when there are also events that aren’t SeaWolves games. We have over 30 extra events this year, including several high school baseball games. They put wear on the grass and field, but most importantly, they cut into our time to get work done. We love kids’ camps and block parties and concerts, but they do bring about extra challenges for our job.

During the game, we’re working, too. We’re doing touch-ups throughout the game, and on bad weather days, we’re keeping the umpires up to date. I also keep in touch with Tom Atkins at WJET about what he’s seeing on radar. It’s usually my decision on whether to put the tarp out – you want the tarp to be placed just before bad weather comes, not as it’s already happening.

Rain days are the hardest, as removing water fast is difficult. But I’ve been here so long that all the issues we have start to repeat themselves and I know how to handle them. After all, I have been here since the park’s inception; I’ll be sure to have the Park ready to go day in and day out.

Graduation at Erie Insurance Arena

By Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications

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That’s me (left) with my friend, Mike, outside of the Erie Insurance Arena after graduating. Apparently I had not yet learned how to directly show off my diploma.

Five years ago today, I walked across the stage at Erie Insurance Arena and received my diploma from Penn State Behrend.

Graduation is a special time for all, and I can still remember the pride I felt seeing my hard work in college finally reach its culmination. It was an honor to have my family in the crowd to see me graduate, too.

For those graduating this year, you may have been counting down to graduation day for quite some time. Well, that time is just about here, and all of us here at Erie Insurance Arena want to make sure your day goes as smooth as possible.

Parents and friends of graduates need to remember that all patrons entering the Erie Insurance Arena need to go through a metal detector. At every event, this comes as a surprise to some, but it is simply the standard at facilities today.

When going through metal detectors, we ask that you remove your phones, keys, electronic devices (including a camera to take a picture of your smiling grad!), and large metal objects.

However, you don’t have to remove your belt, your watch, jewelry, wallet or coins.

We also ask that if at all possible, avoid bringing a bag or purse to graduation. Bags and purses at any event at the Erie Insurance Arena are subject to additional screening, slowing down the entry process. Bring only essential items!

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Some tips for you to remember when going through our metal detectors.

One last note: While there are plenty of things you CAN bring, there are some items that you just CANNOT bring. Those include bottles or cans, outside food and beverages, flasks, noise makers, selfie sticks, weapons, and other dangerous or unlawful items. Safety first!

We look forward to having you for graduation at Erie Insurance Arena and we can’t wait to be part of your special day!

 

Ignore the Weather: Things Are Heating Up At Erie Events

By Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications and Client Relations

If looking out your window and seeing April snow makes you melancholy, don’t worry, we’ve got just what can cheer you up.

While the weather has yet to make the turn, all of us here at Erie Events have our sights set on a bright and sunny future.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with our very own Erie SeaWolves. The SeaWolves have already taken to the field and their bats are beginning to finally heat up even if the weather hasn’t. We look for the SeaWolves to have another successful year both on and off the field. Just in the month of April, the SeaWolves have a fleece blanket giveaway, fireworks, catch on the field, and more. Personally, I’m excited for all the Buck Nights this year. In late April, one of the SeaWolves’ opponents, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (what a name!) bring Tim Tebow to the field. That will be a series you won’t want to miss!

On Friday of this week, Casey Wells, our executive director, will have information on a possible grant that will bring funding for renovations for UPMC Park and Erie Insurance Arena. If the grant is received, the Erie SeaWolves and Erie Otters will commit to 10 more years in Erie. Talk about a bright future!

Our events schedule for the upcoming months looks promising, too, with a number of concerts and performances ready to wow the Erie crowds. Our schedule of events includes:

  • April 19: Gov’t Mule, Warner Theatre
  • April 26: Brian Regan, Warner Theatre
  • May 12: Lloyd and Layton Greene, Warner Theatre
  • May 12: Brantley Gilbert, Erie Insurance Arena
  • May 16: Peppa Pig’s Surprise, Warner Theatre
  • June 29: Dierks Bentley, Erie Insurance Arena
  • September 25: REO Speedwagon, Warner Theatre
  • November 9 and 10: Monster Jam, Erie Insurance Arena

We also have a few family-friendly events that we’ll be announcing in the coming days.

As always, tickets are available at http://www.erieevents.com. We look forward to hosting you at any number of our events and we hope you have a great time! All said, despite the weather forecast bringing us down, the forecast for Erie Events is clear skies, sun, and a whole lot of entertainment!

 

Erie SeaWolves, UPMC Enter Naming Rights Partnership

The Erie SeaWolves, Double-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, and UPMC announce today a partnership that will rename the downtown Erie ballpark where the SeaWolves play.

Beginning today, the facility at 110 East 10th Street, formerly known as Jerry Uht Park, is renamed UPMC Park. The new name will be featured on major signage on the exterior of UPMC Park. UPMC, UPMC Health Plan and UPMC Hamot will be prominently displayed inside the ballpark with recognition on the scoreboard, home plate backstop, and playing turf behind home plate. In addition, the new name will be featured in the team’s communications, marketing and promotional efforts.

Under the partnership, UPMC and the SeaWolves will continue successful, annual community impact programs including UPMC Health Plan Paint the Park Pink weekend, C. Wolf’s Super Smiles (a youth dental rewards program,) and C. Wolf’s Healthy Challenge (a youth rewards program based on fitness and nutritional choices.)

“We are thrilled to have UPMC as our stadium naming rights partner. UPMC is one of the most recognized names in health care and an organization that has been investing in the Erie community over the last several years,” SeaWolves Owner and CEO Fernando Aguirre said. “This is another major statement on the part of UPMC regarding the importance of Erie in their businesses plans. From our perspective, this is on the most critical aspects of our financial plans to continue with our long-term commitment to maintain professional Double-A baseball in Erie. The community will continue to benefit from the entertainment value of professional baseball.”

“Since the early days when UPMC Health Plan was just beginning, we have had a business office located in downtown Erie and for about the same amount of time, we have had a wonderful relationship with the Erie SeaWolves. As we celebrate our 20 years of service as a Health Plan, we can take our partnership with the SeaWolves to the next level and deepen our commitment to the Erie Community,” Stephen Perkins MD, UPMC Health Plan’s Chief Medical Officer, Commercial and Medicare products said.

“Our commitment to Erie goes beyond our promise to make high-quality affordable health care services accessible to local residents. Our promise to the community also means reaching out beyond our hospital walls and being a good community leader with partnerships like this,” Jim Fiorenzo, President of UPMC Hamot said. “We are proud to support our Erie SeaWolves, and carry on Jerry Uht’s passion to keep Double-A baseball here in our town. This beautiful venue not only provides a healthy atmosphere for families and friends to gather to enjoy the game of baseball, but also helps boost local businesses throughout the city.”

A world-renowned health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC also provides nearly $900 million a year in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates 60,000 employees, more than 20 hospitals, more than 500 doctors’ offices and outpatient services, and a three million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical and behavioral health services insurer in western Pennsylvania. Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC ranks No. 12 in the prestigious U.S. News and World Report annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals.

While this is UPMC’s first stadium naming rights deal in professional baseball, UPMC is no stranger to sports partnerships. UPMC Sports Medicine serves as the official sports medicine provider of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins. The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex is a regional destination for athletes of every age and serves as the training center for the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The UPMC Rooney Sports Complex is one of the leading sports medicine centers in the United States and serves as the practice and training facilities of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

UPMC Park is administered by Erie Events. In March 2016, the SeaWolves announced a new lease with Erie Events to play home games at the ballpark through the 2020 season.

“We would like to congratulate the SeaWolves and UPMC,” Casey Wells, Erie Events Executive Director said. “This announcement speaks volumes for the partnership that Erie Events has established with SeaWolves owner Fernando Aguirre and his commitment to Erie. Fernando has delivered on everything he promised from the start, and we are confident that his long-term plans and commitment are further solidified by today’s announcement.”

The SeaWolves open their 23rd season on Thursday, April 6, 2017 against the Trenton Thunder at 6:35pm.

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Zoso – Warner Theatre – October 22

Zoso – The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience formed in 1995 to perform the most accurate and captivating Led Zeppelin live show since the real thing. For Zoso, it’s much more than just being a tribute. It’s about touching a golden era in music. Zoso embodies Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones in their spirit, tightly-wound talent and authenticity.

Each band member has been carefully selected to portray both the appearance and playing styles of their Led Zeppelin counterparts. In eighteen successful years of touring, they have perfected their art. As one of the longest tenured Zeppelin tributes, Zoso’s 2,400 live shows around the world, including a slot at Bonnaroo in 2003, have established them as the most traveled and successful band in the market.

Zoso’s live shows are not about simply playing the right notes, they are about aura and feeling, harkening back to the unique atmosphere Led Zeppelin created. It’s in the way they play: Each band member’s mastery of authentic vintage instruments coupled with spot-on vocals, guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, their compelling stage persona and distinct Led Zeppelin sound, with astounding visual imagery recreates the music, magic, and mystery of a Zeppelin concert. The impact is so powerful that band members constantly hear from young rockers that they were the catalyst behind turning them into new, die-hard  Zeppelin fans.

Their passion, musical ability, showmanship and precise attention to detail earned them critical acclaim, name recognition and a loyal national following. The Los Angeles Times hailed the group as being “head and shoulders above all other Zeppelin tributes,” and the Chicago Sun-Times declared Zoso is “the closest to the original of any tribute.”

If you missed Led Zeppelin live in the 70’s or are looking to relive the “Hammer of the Gods” phenomenon, you must experience what the St. Petersburg Times calls “the most exacting of the Zeppelin tributes bands in existence.”

Senator Bernie Sanders Campaigns in Erie

In front of his hundreds of supporters, Senator Bernie Sanders took the stage at the Bayfront Convention Center to people chanting his name and loud cheers. The energetic crowd of nearly 2,200 started to gather as early as 7:30am even though Sanders wasn’t set to take the stage until 2pm. The crowd first heard from a local volunteer, then City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and Scott Slawson, the UE Local 506 President. Slawson introduced Sanders, but first addressed the job layoff situation at GE Transportation. While on stage, Sanders rallied the crowd behind his beliefs on job creation, income inequality, comprehensive labor reform, climate change and much more. His speech lasted about 55 minutes with him calling on PA constituents to get out to vote in the primary saying “I think we’re going to win Pennsylvania next week!”

Final Phase of the Warner Theatre Restoration to Begin

Restoration and expansion of the historic Warner Theatre will move forward after decades of tremendous efforts by Erie Events (Erie County Convention Center Authority) and the Warner Theatre Preservation Trust. The land acquisition issues that put the fourth phase of the project on hold for many years have been resolved with the owners of Mid City Towers agreeing to sell the property necessary to complete the expansion. Erie Events will purchase a portion of Mid City Towers land, the theatre’s neighbor to the south, an office building at 821 State Street and parking spaces located behind the property.

Phase IV will transform the Warner Theatre from its 1931 movie house/vaudeville stage into a historically preserved, fully-functional performing arts center. It will create basement, ground and mezzanine levels with approximately 13,750 square feet of new space and will rehabilitate approximately 9,000 square feet of existing space. The stage depth will increase by 20 feet and a new stage house with new rigging, lighting, a sound system, dressing rooms and loading docks will be added. New production equipment and a custom designed orchestral shell will also be included in the renovation.

The project will be funded in part by an $11 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a $3.5 million contribution from the Warner Theatre Preservation Trust, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Once the purchase is completed, the Commonwealth’s Department of General Services will remobilize the project architect, Daniel Coffey and Associates of Chicago, to finish the final design.

The preservation and upkeep of the historic theatre is necessary because the venue is a vital asset to the community and the local groups who call the theatre home, including The Erie Philharmonic Orchestra, the Erie Broadway Series and the Lake Erie Ballet. In 2015, there were more than 82,000 patrons through the theatre doors, with a direct economic impact of $10.7 million. A significant increase in events and economic impact is expected after the renovations are done.

“The new stage infrastructure will be able to accommodate much larger touring productions, allowing the theatre to reach its full potential and further stimulate Erie’s economy and improve its quality of life for all citizens of Northwestern Pennsylvania,” said Casey Wells, Erie Events Executive Director.

The project spans a lengthy timeline dating back to the planning in the 1990s and restoration starting in 2002.

  • Phase I: 2002 – $2 million – The theatre roof was replaced and all decorative surfaces in the lobby and auditorium were cleaned, painted and restored.
  • Phase II: 2003 – $1 million – New seats were installed on the auditorium level and the balcony seats were renovated.
  • Phase III: 2007 – $2.3 million – Expansion and integration of the theatre with the National City Bank building at 8th and French Streets. The updates incorporated the new entrance on French Street, an electronic marquee, more lobby space, an elevator, additional restrooms and concession areas. These renovations included improvements to make the theatre compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Phase IV will begin after the purchase of the Mid City Towers property this July and the construction schedule will be released once the project is remobilized. Once work begins, the theatre will need to be closed for five months during the summer, but the closure will not interrupt the Erie Philharmonic and the Erie Broadway seasons.