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How would you improve Coca-Cola Field?

CCF My friend Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has done this kind of post on his Extra Bases blog for the last four years about Frontier Field and it's always fascinating reading. The Red Wings run a great operation but are always looking for ways to tweak what they're doing. The Bisons are similar in that they're well-regarded in minor-league baseball and they should be. Even though it's amazingly now the oldest park in the IL, Coca-Cola Field (right) is still a fun place to be 22 seasons after it opened.

That said, there are ways it could be better. So, as promised in Sunday's Inside Baseball column,  I present you with this list of some of my gripes. Now, I have a lot of things I like about the place but this is a way things could be even better. I'm hoping you are ready to contribute plenty of ideas in the comments section. Here are some of mine. Some are big, some are small. And you want order? It's a blog. You get stream of consciousness.

Disclaimers: This is a pie-in-the-sky list. I'd like to see the Bisons do all of these but there's money involved, folks. I like spending theirs. They may not be as interested in spending it. I get it. Here goes:

1). Upgrade the scoreboard. It's been 10 years. HD, please.

2). Need a new message board on the LF screen that would have more baseball information on it. I'm talking about out-of-town scores (majors and IL), scoring decisions and names of relief pitchers. People do keep score and complain they can't spell visitors' names because they're never put on the Big Board. Folks sitting behind the plate complain they can't see the scores very well on the sideboards on the club level facade.

3). Tinker with the home white jerseys. The numbers are also in white. You can't read them from a distance. Love the road greys with the script Buffalo and interlocking NY Mets logo. Great addition. The home jerseys were a Star Wars-looking type bust.

4). There needs to be a complete overhaul of the main concourse. Banners of the International League teams would be a great addition. So would banners of great ex-Bisons, both from the old days (say Luke Easter) and current times (Jeff Manto etc). I loved the "Baseball State of Mind" banners put outside on Washington Street. Do more of that inside the park.

5). The Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame display is completely wasted upstairs on the club level. Nobody sees it and the plaques are taking a beating from sun and heat in the summer and exposure to the cold in winter. This is the heritage of our franchise and it should be prominently displayed downstairs like it used to be and like similar displays are in other parks. Concerned about taking away space from advertising? Then sell ads to go with the display.

6). I'm surprised the team hasn't taken away one of its more outlying concession stands and blown out its gift shop to replace its broom closet one. The two satellite stands it's opened have been a big help but what about a big one where you could shop for everything?

7). Do something about the corrosion on the light towers. They look hideous, especially the one in left-center.

8). Move the Friday night pregame parties back into the CF tent area. The Swan Street plaza was a decent idea that just hasn't worked.

Fries 9). Demand better service at the concession stands. Tell the employees to stop chatting. People are at the counter and they're often ignored. It's Customer Service 101. The crowds aren't causing delays. The employees are. And the biggest issue seems to be french fries. You're constantly waiting for those, well after you get your hot dog or burger. Why? Maybe you need to buy a bigger fryer?

10). Why are some concession stands closed so much? If specialty stands are only going to be open on weekends, maybe the ticket price should be dropped Monday-Thursday. Maybe publicize a schedule for concession stands.

11). Make the berm in right field bigger so people can actually sit on it and watch the game. It's too low. It should rise higher than the fence like it does in Indianapolis. Right now, it only deserves to be called a grass hill. It's no berm.

12). This one I don't know much about. Got a lot of complaints this year that people went into Pettibones on game nights and were told it was buffet only and nothing off the menu. Lots of upset people flooded my inbox about July 3 and I heard about it on other nights too. If that's the case, fine. But you have to tell people that beforehand.

13). The concourses are constantly powerwashed and that's good. But things seem to be drifting in that regard in the seating areas, especially upstairs. Getting a lot of complaints about bees hanging around day-old collections of beer and pop on the concrete. Wouldn't happen with a good daily washing.

Sinks 14). This one has agitated me since 1988. Are we ever going to fix the faucets in the bathroom sinks? They were never installed right from day one. They don't come out far enough and you can't stick your hands underneath them. Bogus. When primo Sabres blogger Topshelfcookies went to a game in May on Darryl Strawberry Day, she made the point about the sinks I've always made too. Even illustrated it with this picture that Inside Pitch is borrowing. Thanx!

15). Another one I don't know about that I've gotten a lot of complaints: Water fountains around the park don't work. Fans think the team wants you to buy bottled water instead. I just think they've been broken and not attended to.

There's my list. Maybe I forgot some things. I'm sure you have others. Let 'em rip in the comments section.

---Mike Harrington


Photo: Mark Mulville/Buffalo News

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