ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Opening day for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown is just one month away, but the baseball field remains frozen beneath eight inches of snow and ice.
"Every other year the snow usually melts," explained Ryan Hills, the minor league baseball team's director of field operations.
Almost the entire ballpark is trapped under a layer of white, and the field needs to be ready for players in about three weeks.
"We're using a front-end loader to scrape and load the snow into trailers," shared Hills.
The work started Tuesday, and it's no fastball. The chunks of hard, packed snow and ice are slowly removed and hauled out to the parking lot. Crews are clearing the infield to finish replacing the grass. It's a project that stalled in December when the ground froze.
"We need to finish this project for opening day," Hills added.
April 7 is the IronPig's first home game; however, players need to be on the field by the end of March to practice.
Besides the field, most of the stands are also snow-covered. As it is right now, the parking lot could never handle the opening day crowds.
"This year has been much different," said Jason Kiesel, director of operations. "We already pretty much doubled our snow removal budget."
Officials said they're hoping the temperature warms up and the remaining snow melts, but if that strikes out, they're ready to make the call.
"Hopefully by March 20, I'll have an idea of what's going to happen," said Hills.
Allentown, PA 18102