Lackawanna County Reaches Tentative Deal with Yankees

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There is the tentative deal between Lackawanna County and the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees organization.

The deal is needed in order to bring the baseball team back to a renovated PNC Field by the 2013 season.

Lackawanna County commissioners said demolition will not start until the Yankees sign the dotted line, but after the holiday weekend, there will be activity at PNC Field as construction crews get ready for the renovations.

The tentative deal between the county and the Yankees ensures the team will play here for at least the next 30 years.

Newswatch 16 met Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien in Moosic where he was helping prepare the borough's little league field for its opening day. It was an appropriate setting, since he said the night before the county and the Yankees finally came to a tentative agreement that ensures the future of baseball in Lackawanna County.

O'Brien said the deal to sell the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees isn't signed yet but close enough to start work to renovate PNC Field in Moosic.

"Right now we're mobilizing our construction team because we believe we're close enough. They're not going to start swinging hammers until we have a signed deal with the Yankees, but they're going to mobilize and be ready to go," Commissioner O'Brien said.

The Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees opened their season Thursday night in Allentown. The team is spending their entire 2012 season on the road to allow for renovations to PNC Field.

The deal Lackawanna County is close to signing means the team would be sold back to the Yankees for $14.5 million and the team then agrees to play here for at least the next 30 years.

A relief to some baseball fans. Since the deal comes more than month late, many were fearful that the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees wouldn't return.

"Yeah, I think it's a good thing for the kids, to take the kids to the games and stuff like that. I think it's good," said Vito Salerno of Old Forge.

"I think if we lost that, it would have been bad for the area. It would have hurt them up there, the revenue, especially after everything they did to build that stadium and how they made everything expand up there," said Frank Abent of Old Forge.

The agreement to renovate PNC Field was first brought up by past commissioners in 2006. Now work is supposed to be done by April of next year in time for opening day of 2013.

"This will be a fully renovated facility that we will all be very, very proud of, from the youngest children to the oldest seniors. They'll be able to enjoy baseball in way they haven't been able to in a very long time," O'Brien added.

The deal still needs to go in front of the county stadium authority for approval, and commissioners said they will hold a series of public hearings before the deal is signed.

Once that's done, they will set a date to demolish part of PNC Field.