Lake Monsters’ field sees new improvement

Whether you’re from Vermont or an out-of-stater, most likely you’ve heard of the Vermont Lake Monsters, Vermont’s minor league baseball team. The Lake Monster’s home is located right here in Burlington, at Centennial Field.

Since 1906, Centennial Field has been a staple within the Burlington community, creating a fun atmosphere for families from all over the state.

Within the past two years, the complex has seen some major renovations thanks to the signing of their new lease with UVM in 2012.

The contract with UVM consists of a 20-year agreement in which the Lake Monsters would have to pay one dollar per year in order to play and practice there.

“It certainly helps our cause, it’s a rent that we don’t have to pay each year, like we used to,” general manager Nate Cloutier said. “With that comes the responsibility of taking care of the facility and taking care of the improvements that we need to do.”

The lowered rent has given long-term stability to the Lake Monsters’ cause and has helped them invest money into the facility to cover certain issues.

Renovations done to the field include but are not limited to the installation of a new lighting system as well as a new video board, which according to Cloutier will “help with the entertainment at the ballpark.”

This year, to bring fans a bit closer to the action on the field,w the Lake Monsters brought their fence lines in by as close as 27 feet in some places.

The biggest improvement to the field is the change from concrete slabs for seating into new comfortable seats for fans to enjoy, 1,600 of them to be exact.

After taking a closer look, Boston Redsox fans can appreciate that these new seats are the same ones that have been newly installed into Fenway Park.

“We dream big, that’s what minor league baseball is all about,” Cloutier said.

In coordination with that project there was also an expansion of the dugouts, which are now about 50 percent larger than they used to be, something home and visiting teams can enjoy.

“People are much happier and more comfortable,” Cloutier said. “I think people are very happy to sit in an actual seat, they know they can go to the concession stand and comeback and their seats still there.”

Having played here for the past 20 years, the Lake Monsters, formerly known as the Vermont Expos until 2007, call Centennial field their home.

“This is a great place to be, it just needed some TLC, some tender loving care to bring the place back up to standards, Cloutier said. “We just want to make sure that it’s safe for other players. We want to make sure its safe for our fans.”

Thus far, the renovation project has poured $1.8 million into the much-needed improvements. The Lake Monsters organization had help from other partners such as LakeWind Construction as well as all of the many other venders that helped put the stadium together.

When asked about whether or not fans should expect more improvements in the upcoming months, Cloutier said, “We’re looking at some other projects, but you have to make sure that you have your I’s dotted and your T’s crossed before you even think about them or budget for them or stuff like that. We have other things that we want to do, but it’s not something right now that we’re ready to discuss, just can’t get everyone’s hopes up for something that might not even happen.”

If fans haven’t seen the new and improved stadium yet, it’s recommended they check it out.

Whether you’re rooting on the Lake Monsters next season on a summer night or cheering on Vermont’s Club Baseball team this fall, the experience is guaranteed to be one to remember.

“We’re really trying to make the fan experience different and more comfortable,” Cloutier said. “We want people to come once and then come again. We want this to be a fun place for families to come and smile and create memories. That’s really what it’s all about.”