Early Wednesday morning, a fire broke out at Estadio Cibao in Santiago, Dominican Republic – the home of the Aguilas Cibaenas, a Dominican Winter League team where a number of minor leaguers from multiple clubs (including the White Sox) are playing offseason baseball.
At around 7am, stadium employees and residents fled the stadium and the surrounding areas upon noticing that it had been engulfed with flames as dark clouds of smoke billowed out from the second level of the stadium. Within hours, the Santiago Fire Department was able to put out the fire, as they had to circumvent challenging wires and structures preventing them from quelling the fire immediately on arrival.
According to reports, the fire did not spread far beyond the second level of the stadium. The President of the team said that the fire would not affect this Saturday’s home game. Unfortunately, the fire did, however, do significant damage. El Nuevo Diario, a Dominican newspaper, detailed that the fire swept through the broadcast booths and damaged sound system equipment, electrical appliances that control the electronic big screen, VIP suites, and areas of the second-level stands. Front office personnel reported on Twitter that trophies and other irreplaceable items were also damaged or destroyed.
Vice Sports’ Jorge Arangure: “[The] fire has destroyed nearly 75% of Estadio Cibao, home to DR’s Aguilas and one of the country’s most storied stadiums,” said Arangure via Twitter.
Dan Black, a 27-year-old minor league first basemen in the White Sox organization, is currently playing for Aguilas. Black, having just completed his sixth season in the White Sox system, is on Aguilas for the second consecutive winter league season.
“I first heard about the fire when some of my teammates retired to the team hotel and told me about it. Luckily, we had a road trip scheduled for today and an off day [Thursday],” said Black in an email.
Thankfully, per Black, players and staff had already left the stadium. There are no reported injuries at this time.
Black is having a fantastic sophomore campaign for Aguilas (1.128 OPS in 72ABs). He is also very enthusiastic about how the season has unfolded thus far for first place Aguilas (15-10 record).
“I hope this incident does not effect our schedule. I would hate to have this affect the fans of Aguilas and prevent them from enjoying the games. This has been a very fun and enjoyable winter so far. The team is doing very well and I expect us to make a push for first place in the coming weeks.”
While authorities investigate the source of the fire and the city copes with the significant damage in the landmark stadium, Dan Black and Aguilas look to provide the best remedy possible in a troubling situation like this: more baseball.
***UPDATE 8:50pm ET: Saturday and Sunday’s games (at least) for Agulias Cibao have been postponed, per a DWL front office source.
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