Last-minute preps at Fifth Third Ballpark

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Last minute preparations at Fifth Third Ballpark are underway right now ahead of Tuesday night’s home opener.

Three months have passed since a devastating fire ripped through the Fifth Third Ballpark on January 3. Since then crews have been hard at work getting everything ready for Opening Day.

24 Hour News 8 was there for each step of the rebuilding process. From the first couple of week crews began working, to the first time the ballpark reopened to the public for an open house back in February, all leading up to the Whitecaps’ home opener.

“It all came down to the wire,” said Mickey Graham, Whitecaps’ Media Relations Director. “It’s a photo finish so to speak.”

Most fans won’t notice remnants from the fire. The suite area has been rebuilt, including a fresh coat of paint, new carpet, and added windows.

Some of those suites won’t be completed until the Midwest League All-Star Game in June, but the new concession area and souvenir shop will be open Tuesday night.

In the coming years, fans will start to notice more changes throughout the park.

“We are going to take the office that was the old souvenir shop at the third base side and make it more of a craft beer area, so that’s something they can look forward to next season,” said Graham.

Now the words “Fifth Third Ballpark” once again line the first base side of the stadium.

“It’s going to be one of those years where I think people will come back out to the ballpark that haven’t been in awhile. It’s going to be one of those years where people come out just to see what’s new, how it’s different,” said Graham. “I think overall it’s just going to be a really special year and a lot of fun.”

Fans also can’t wait to get back to baseball, including one who came a very long way to make sure she and her grandson would be in the seats for the home opener.

“I’m hoping it will be a sell out because it’s going to be a beautiful day, so it’s exciting,” said Whitecaps fan Sandy Garland. “I was devastated when it burned and I live in Texas, so I watched it online. But I decided I was going to be here.”

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ONLINE:

Watch: Time-lapse video of the reconstruction

Photo gallery of the rebuilding process

West Michigan Whitecaps coverage

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