New beginnings at Bicentennial Park

Bicentennial Park to be the new home for Muhlenberg’s baseball program come 2025.

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Rendering of the new Muhlenberg baseball field. Photo Courtesy of Allentown City Council.

At a recent Allentown City Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7, Muhlenberg College and the City of Allentown reached an agreement on a resolution to turn the stadium at Earl F. Hunsicker Bicentennial Park into the Muhlenberg baseball program’s new home beginning in the spring of 2025. The City approved a ten-year lease on the property, which could eventually end up being extended another 20 years, seeing the College pay $15,000 a year in rent over that span and requiring it to spend up to $4 million in investments to renovate and refurbish the vacant land over the next five years.

Built in 1939 and originally named Fairview Field, Bicentennial Park has been home to many baseball and softball teams at various levels, including professional leagues. From 1997 to 2003, it was home to the Allentown Ambassadors of the independent Northeast League, then eventually hosting the Allentown Railers of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League from 2012 to 2019. Baseball has seeped into Allentown out of Bicentennial Park for decades, adding to the significance of the Mules’ recently approved venture.

According to an article from LehighValleyNews.com, the stadium is currently unusable and has not held games for five years, so this project will benefit both the Mules and the City of Allentown. In the College’s press release, President Kathleen Harring said, “We’re really proud of our partnership with the city on this project. This is what happens when we all strive together for the common good. It’s going to be an outstanding ballfield once again. I look forward to seeing the Mules play there.”

The stadium is located on Lehigh and South Howard Streets on the south side of the city and is situated within a neighborhood, making it an enticing spot for investment into recreational infrastructure. The newly renovated stadium will not exclusively hold Muhlenberg baseball matchups but also host free monthly community baseball clinics, service projects and other volunteer opportunities to grow the game of baseball. “It’s going to add not only to our student-athletes’ experience but also to the neighborhood,” said Harring to Muhlenberg Athletics. “We’re looking forward to welcoming friends and neighbors for games, clinics and all the other activities we’re planning.”

The work on the property, stadium and playing surface will be completed in two phases. The first phase will include reconditioning both the infield and outfield, demolishing sections of bleachers to allow for new batting cages and bullpens and refurbishing outfield fencing, restrooms and dugouts. The second phase will consist of renovations to interior spaces like offices, locker rooms and concession stands.

“For me, the most exciting thing about Bicentennial Park is what this move has the potential to do for our program,” said Tod Gross, who is entering his 12th season as head coach of Muhlenberg baseball. “We will be able to have multiple opportunities throughout the year to have camps, clinics and showcases that will bring prospective student-athletes not just to Bicentennial Park but also to campus. We will be able to host many events to aid in recruiting without having to go on the road.  This will allow us to showcase a great facility to recruits. We will also be practicing and playing in one of the better [Division III] facilities in the country.”

This project is a testament to the hard work, discipline and passion for the program that previous Muhlenberg baseball players and coaches have shown over the years. While it is exciting to see both Allentown and Muhlenberg invest in this rejuvenation, it will be a bittersweet moment as ‘Berg bids goodbye to what has been its home since 1997, the Lehigh County Sports Complex, or the “Creek,” a period that has seen Centennial Conference (CC) playoff berths, CC rookies-of-the-year and numerous home-runs and diving plays.

“This year, being the final one at the Creek, is going to be special for all of us from the upperclassmen down,” said Infielder Mason Mehling ‘26. “Especially Coach Gross, since this is all he knows from taking over 12 years ago. The goal for this year would be to host one last playoff game to send Cedar Creek Park off in fashion, but looking forward, the new field is going to be a great opportunity for all current and future players. All of the guys look forward to being able to call the new field home in the upcoming year.” 

The goal for any ambitious and driven program is to bring home silverware, and the team has one more chance to capture glory and commemorate the Creek. “One thing we talked about as a program when we got the news about moving to Bicentennial [Park] was reflecting upon all of the teams and players that have played at the ‘Creek’ over the years and taking on the responsibility to hopefully send it out on a high note,” said Gross. 

”My favorite memory was sweeping Johns Hopkins my freshman year,” said Infielder Aidan Legner ‘25. We knew going into that doubleheader that it was going to be a battle, and we were able to come away with two wins on Senior Day.” Regardless of the results, the Creek will remain a significant part of Muhlenberg baseball’s history. 

This innovative project indicates a new era in Muhlenberg baseball is right around the corner. “[The project] symbolizes a commitment to not only our baseball program but a commitment to what our baseball program and Muhlenberg College can do for the community as a whole,” stated Gross. “I think having such an amazing facility to practice and play in will be a huge asset to the program and the College, but also to the community. We will be able to host various youth events for the community and bring baseball back to Allentown.”

The Mules will open up their season on the road on Saturday, Feb. 25, against Rutgers-Newark, and will have their first home game of their final season at Cedar Creek Field on Monday, Mar. 4, against Rutgers-Camden.

Evan is a media and communication major minoring in creative writing and journalism with a passion for sports writing as well as soccer, being outdoors and spending time with close friends and family. He is eager to continue learning about and tinkering with writing while learning from the talented Weekly staff.

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