Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Opening Day: Baseball Fans, Take Your Michigan-Made Seats

Upper Deck
Comerica Park, 2008. Tigers home opener is April 8th.

Little known fact: Today, thousands of baseball fans across the country will be sitting on seats that were made right here in Grand Rapids.

It’s been what you might call a home run year for American Seating Company when it comes to its stadium business.

The hits have been one after another: 20,000 seats for the Boston Red Sox, 28,000 for the Baltimore Orioles, 35,000 for the Florida Marlins and 42,000 to the Washington, D.C., Nationals.

The Grand Rapids company’s baseball seating business is up at least 25 percent over last year, said Bruce Weener, vice president of sales. His company shirt is embroidered with the motto: “We know baseball.”

American Seating provided the seats for Comerica Park above, as well as seats for the White Sox, Giants, Indians, Rangers, Brewers, A’s, Phillies and Cardinals. Grand Rapids-based Irwin Seating provided specialty seats for Yankee Stadium, where the Tigers start the season today. Irwin also has provided specialty seats for the Lions' Ford Field and many other stadiums across the country.

American has been in Grand Rapids for a long, long time - quite a feat in this day and age of the moving and shrinking American manufacturing base.

The nearly 125-year-old American Seating has been around almost as long as America’s pastime — and has been making seats for baseball teams since the early 1900s. The original seating in Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, was American Seating.

The company lives up to its name. The chairs are made in its factory on Grand Rapids’ Northwest Side.

Sports seating accounts for about 20 percent of the company’s overall sales.

They make automotive and classroom seating, amongst other things. They also recycle old seats into new products, so you could call them environmentally conscious as well.

Cheers for Grand Rapids workers - now let's play ball!