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.

Kevin1

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.

Kevin2

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!

 

Advertisements

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.

IMG_0038

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.

IMG_0043

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.

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.

031 038 041