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Rebuild continues at Fifth-Third Ballpark

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's been more than a month since tragedy struck at West Michigan's Fifth-Third Ballpark, as a fire ripped through the stadium.

Fire investigators say a trash container was set too close to a space heater, causing the fire.

Now, with less than two months until opening day, new walls are going up at Fifth-Third Ballpark as crews continue to rebuild.

Construction crews are planning to have the lower level, with concessions and bathrooms, ready to go by opening day on April 8.

They hope to have at least the shell of the upper level done by then as well.

Ballpark staff say they're not letting the fire hold them back.

Whitecaps spokesman Mickey Graham walked Newschannel 3 through the construction on Thursday, and said the slow hasn't slowed them down.

"I think they've run into some obstacles that they weren't expecting to run into, because of the weather, but it's a determined crew," Graham said.

But inside, there's even more work to do, and upstairs, the smell of smoke still hangs in the air.

While the structure can be fixed, charred reminders of what was lost still remain.

"The tough stuff is the memorabilia," Graham said. "Old pictures and autographed items, just that sort of stuff; that's what's hard. 20 years of baseball, and you lose some of those things."

But just as the snow will eventually stop falling, Graham says spring will come, and there will be baseball.

Back in January, the Plainfifeld Fire Chief said part of the problem with attacking the fire was a lack of hydrants, which made it difficult to get water.

Graham says they are working with the city right now to determine what they need to do to fix that.

They say the ballpark will be open in April, and they hope to be finished with the project by mid-June, when they host the Midwest League All-Star Game.