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AUBURN — Don DeGiovine, who has been coming to Falcon Park for 56 years, said he likes the field's new renovations.

DeGiovine, who said he has had season tickets to Auburn baseball for decades, was with his wife, Marilyn, at an open house Friday to celebrate the park's recent facelift. 

The city of Auburn announced a deal with Cayuga Community College in July 2018  for the city to make $3 million in improvements, including synthetic turf installation, at the city-owned park and turn it a multi-use facility to be used by CCC sports teams and other activities. The project was approved that fall.

Personnel with the city, CCC and the Auburn Doubledays were at the event Friday. Lindsey Belding, daughter of Brittany Belding, associate at Appel Osborne, the landscape architect firm for the project, could be seen bouncing a baseball across the turf. Jeff Rosenthal, CCC's vice president of student affairs, and the college's dean of students Cathy Dotterer played catch at one point.

Ron Starr Jr., whose parents, Ron and Mary, met at the park, said he was happy to be with his parents at the place where "their romance began," and added that he liked the field.

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State Sen. Bob Antonacci said he thought installing artificial turf was a smart fiscal choice, adding that parts of the area that become damaged can be cut out and replaced with a new piece. 

"I know that traditionalists would say that grass is where it's at, but the expense and the time commitment of maintaining a grass field in this environment, the Northeast, is really tough. I think this is going to keep baseball in central New York," he said.

Auburn Mayor Michael Quill said he's glad that generations of athletes will be playing on the field, as he said the Auburn High School baseball team has played on the field.

"The kids that are playing ball, they're going to be moving up and this is what they're going to be playing on, so this, in my mind will give them a leg up," Quill said.

When Quill, city manager Jeff Dygert and CCC president Brian Durant addressed over 65 people at one point, thanking everyone involved with the project and all of those who came out. Durant said that multiple CCC athletic teams will be using the field by the fall, and said the field project is an example of people coming together "for the common collective good."

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Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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