IronPigs future in Allentown caught in a pickle as councilmembers balk at funding needs

After Allentown’s City Council rejected a plan to spend a million and a half dollars to renovate Coca-Cola Park, the privately-owned team and Lehigh County commit to keeping the minor league IronPigs in town for what they say will be generations to come.

Major League Baseball is requiring the county-owned stadium to upgrade its facilities with male and female locker rooms, a training facility, and other amenities.  

With a combination of state and county funds the money was almost at hand except for the last $1.5 million Allentown was going to kick in from its federal COVID funds. If not there is at least a threat the IronPigs could pack up their bats and balls and play elsewhere.  

"I think there’s a threat, I think there’s always a threat you can always lose a team like that," Allentown’s Mayor Matt Tuerk responded when asked if he thought the threat of departure was real.

In a 4 to 3 vote on Wednesday night, Allentown’s City Council rejected the use of the COVID funds.  

C.C. Gerlach, in her first term on the council, voted no. She told Fox 29’s Jeff Cole, "We are a town of poverty. Parks, pools, and playgrounds we have to invest in. We have people who can’t afford to pay their rent." 

But no sooner had the city said no, the privately-owned team and the county said yes. 

A statement released Thursday reads in part: "Lehigh County and the IronPigs are committed to continuing to work together to close the remaining funding gap on the current construction project underway at Coca-Cola Park…" – adding, the team will play here for generations to come.

Gerlach said she never wanted the IronPigs to leave but claims Allentown’s needs are great.

"Now we can use this money to actually invest in the people in the neighborhoods in Allentown," Gerlach said.