West Michigan Whitecaps Expect to Rebuild
The West Michigan Whitecaps' ownership expects to rebuild Fifth Third Ballpark in the wake of a Friday blaze that damaged the Comstock Park facility.
A space heater started a small blaze Friday morning at the ballpark, but workers believed they had put it out. They returned to find the space in flames, Plainfield Township Fire Chief David Peterson said.
Fifth Third Ballpark is the home of the Midwest League Class A professional baseball team. It is slated to host the 50th Midwest League All-Star Game on June 17, 2014.
Team officials expect the Whitecaps to play the 2014 season, host the all-star game and rebuild the ballpark.
In a news conference on Friday afternoon, West Michigan Whitecaps Managing Partner Denny Baxter said: "If we rebuild it, they will come once again. I'm pretty confident this community will rally behind this ballclub."
He expects the Whitecaps will be playing baseball for the April 8 opener.
He got choked up several times during the news conference, and expressed that the Whitecaps organization is "more than a business; it's a community member."
Baxter says the Whitecaps will play as scheduled on opening day in April, whether the ballpark's rebuilt at the time or not. The organization just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013.
Firefighters were called back to the ballpark on Saturday morning just after 7:30 a.m. The reignition was under control within an hour, WZZM-13 reported.
The damages from the Friday blaze are an estimated $500,000, authorities said.
Meanwhile, the Christmas Lite Show at Fifth Third Ballpark is still determining whether or not it will continue as planned tonight -- its last for the event.