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PBS39 Show Highlights Economic Impact of Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Coca-Cola Park

By Colin McEvoy on April 25, 2022

The economic and cultural impact of Coca-Cola Park and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs were the subject the most recent episode of the PBS39 television program Lehigh Valley Rising.

Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) President & CEO Don Cunningham, who was Lehigh County Executive when Coca-Cola Park was first established, was among those interviewed by PBS39 for the episode, which first aired on April 21.

“There have certainly been a lot of studies done nationally about the impact of sports stadiums,” Cunningham said. “I tend to look beyond if there’s a dollar-for-dollar payback on the economic investment, and look at what it means to the community as a cultural asset, as a place where people gather, as a place that people identify with and are proud of. Communities and cities need to build those types of things.”

The full episode of the Lehigh Valley Rising episode can be viewed here, and the segment specifically featuring Coca-Cola Park and the IronPigs can be viewed below.

Lehigh Valley Rising is a monthly program highlighting the Lehigh Valley’s latest local businesses, leaders, and influencers. Hosted by four-time Emmy Award winner Grover Silcox, it airs every third Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. on PBS39.

The IronPigs are the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Coca-Cola Park, located in Allentown, has been the team’s home since its inaugural season in 2008. The IronPigs have been Minor League Baseball’s per-game attendance leader since the team’s inception, averaging more than 9,000 fans per contest in the ballpark’s 688-game history.

“The idea of having minor league baseball in the Lehigh Valley existed for quite some time. It took until the right forces lined up in terms of the size of the population of the Lehigh Valley and availability of the team,” Cunningham said. “… The Lehigh Valley has grown tremendously since this stadium’s opened, and we built a stadium that was unique across all the country.”

Cunningham discussed his role in the stadium’s development as Lehigh County Executive, which involved working with the team and team owners to help get the project financed and constructed.

Mike Ventola, Media Relations Manager with the IronPigs, noted the team’s popularity has extended well beyond the Lehigh Valley boundaries, with the team’s merchandise becoming one of the top-selling among all of minor league baseball.

“From the moment that fans walk through the gates to find their seats to the moment they’re ready to go home each night, we’re going to make sure they have the best experience,” Ventola said. “It’s almost like a nine-inning vacation.”

The team’s name is an homage to the Lehigh Valley’s steel-making heritage. Pig iron is a byproduct of smelting iron ore used in the production of steel, and the team’s mascots Ferrus and FeFe are both references to Fe, the symbol for the chemical element of iron.

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