Opening Day at new Utica baseball stadium

Posted at 5:23 PM, May 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-30 18:24:25-04

A new baseball stadium "hit it out of the park" with a sold out crowd on Opening Day!

The United Shore Professional Baseball League was a 10-year effort to turn an empty space of land into a field of dreams.

The independent league celebrated their opening day at the Jimmy John's Field in Utica with a sold out crowd. People lined up to get hats and shirts to show their team pride.

The league has three teams, the Utica Unicorns, Birmingham Beavers and the East Side Diamond Hoppers.

The stadium houses about 4,000 spectators and has provided 450 jobs. It sits on a former landfill.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said, "This is a dual asset. One is remiding a landfill and one is creating a quality of life, economic development opportunity for people."

"We turned the Utica dump into Disney World," said Andrew Appleby, the CEO of United Shore Professional Baseball League.

Horatiu Zglimbea, a spectator, explained, "To know that, underneath is just a bunch of garbage and they turned it into something that's fun and useful will be a good time, especially to see the league grow more than just the three teams."

"99.999% same or better than any other affiliated park," Appleby explained.  "But we will get a major leaguer that comes out of this league and when that happens. We will have a 100% validation."

"Pretty humbling to be out here. Coming from a smaller college you don't really play in front crowds like this. Definitely excitement is running," the Birmingham Beavers Pitcher Jalen Miller explained. "Hopefully, make a start of a career, hoping to just get out here and work hard and come everyday to compete on a professional level."

The three teams will rotate and play about a 75 game season.

The season ends mid-September.