Firestone Stadium getting batting cages, bullpens

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Additional improvements are coming to Firestone Stadium before the end of the year.
During the Sept. 11 Akron City Council meeting, members heard details of batting cages and bullpens being installed at the stadium, which is located at 1575 Firestone Parkway.
Service Director Chris Ludle said the batting cages and bullpens were included in the capital budget. He added the city’s highway maintenance staff will pour the concrete pads and the remaining work will be done by a contractor.
Council approved advertising for bids for the batting cages and bullpens, which are estimated to cost $150,000.
Ludle said the city continues to attract sporting events to the stadium, including the Ohio High School Athletic Association softball tournament and the Mid-American Conference tournament in May. He added the batting cages and bullpens would also be rented to non-city teams.
The additions come following $1.47 million in other improvements at the stadium completed in the spring. Those improvements included upgrades to four restrooms and the concession area, new heating, ventilation and air conditioning, new LED lighting and a perimeter fence, as well as the installation of two new artificial turf fields.
Also during the meeting, Council held a public hearing for a conditional use permit to establish an “apartment use” for 133 Merriman Road. According to the plans, Temple Hall Revival Group LLC plans to convert the site formerly known as Temple Israel into 13 studio apartments for artists in residency. Council took time on the conditional use.
In other business, Council approved the expenditure of $10,029 in grants from the state’s body armor grant program and $13,000 from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Safety Intervention Grant; and to amend the current Fusus contract for The University of Akron camera project to extend it to July 14, 2024.
Council also agreed to place the following on the consent agenda to be voted on at the next meeting:
• a $150,000 contract with Victim Assistance to provide services for victims of crimes;
• a contract with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry to accept the ODNR Urban Canopy Restoration Grant of $25,000 to be used to plant 71 trees throughout the city;
• a joint funding agreement with the U.S. Department of the Interior for the operation and maintenance of flow measurement gauges and the collection of streamflow data for the period Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2026; and
• an application for, acceptance of and expending funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds.
Several members of Council called for discussions to take place during upcoming Council meetings regarding gun violence in the city.
“If you want, I am more than happy to hold a five-hour public safety meeting, I am ready,” said Council member Donnie Kammer (D-Ward 7), who is the chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Council member Shammas Malik (D-Ward 8) said there needs to be a deep dive into the safety at the parks for sporting events following a shooting that injured a 7-year-old and a 19-year-old at Lane Field in August.
“The situation is absolutely out of control,” Malik said.
Council will next meet Sept. 18 for committee meetings at 1 p.m. and a regular meeting at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. The public can view the meetings on Council’s YouTube page, with a link available at www.akroncitycouncil.org.