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The BlueClaws are making some changes here late in 2020 and they are things that have been in the works for a while now.

No, they are not moving from First Energy Park in Lakewood Township...more on that later.

They will remain the Low-A Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

The team is changing their name and their image heading into their 20th season on the field by going from the Lakewood BlueClaws to the Jersey Shore BlueClaws.

BlueClaws baseball will look the same on the field but with a new look and name starting with the 2021 season as a result of an inclusive decision made by the ball club to have the team represent the entire Jersey Shore and not just the team that plays in Lakewood and Ocean County.

"I wouldn't say it's as much dropping Lakewood as it is keeping Lakewood and just embracing all the Shore towns all the way from up north all the way down to Cape May," BlueClaws Team President and General Manager Joe Ricciutti said at a VIP announcement outside Convention Hall in Asbury Park on Wednesday night.

When the current ownership group, Shore Town Baseball, purchased the team in 2017 led by Art Matin, they expanded on the concept of creating a family friendly Jersey Shore style atmosphere that made going to a ballgame more of an entertaining experience by adding in activities including boardwalk games and a 9-hole mini-golf course.

"When we got there the Lifeguard stands and sand pits were already there and we started to take that idea and say 'well, what if we did the midway and could we do a 9-hole mini golf course?' and then as those things were added, then the natural progression of a name change came from there," Ricciutti said.

The upgrades to the ballpark and the name change also reflect all that is good and true about the Jersey Shore that families grew up enjoying and it deflects attention away from the reputation that sprouted after the MTV show 'Jersey Shore' was filmed in Seaside Heights painting Ocean County as a party community instead of a family community.

"Everybody whose grown up at the Jersey Shore, we all know it differently than the MTV version of the Jersey Shore," Ricciutti said. "We know it as coming here with your families as kids, this is how we spent our summers, this is how we spent our weekends."

The shared experience you have with your family and friends at the beach, boardwalk, baseball game and any other summer activity across the Jersey Shore is the kind of environment the BlueClaws have been building up so that when you come to First Energy Park from however near or far a distance, you'll feel at home and that this is your team.

"That's one of the things that got us the most excited was to be able to say, finally, the Jersey Shore has its own hometown team," Ricciutti said.

You'll be able to head to First Energy Park and see the Jersey Shore BlueClaws play for a while longer too as the team has inked a lease extension with the township of Lakewood to continue playing there through the 2031 season.

"We go through 2031 and then at that point, I'm sure we fully anticipate we'll sign another 10-year extension and take it right until the end," Ricciutti said.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the cancelation of seasons for affiliated teams across Minor League Baseball in 2020 and a shortened one in Major League Baseball.

The Jersey Shore BlueClaws and all the other teams are now planning for the possibility of baseball in 2021 and fans at whatever capacity is allowed with safety being a priority.

"We'll make sure that fans feel comfortable coming back and joining us," Ricciutti said. "It's a great experience for anybody whose been to a BlueClaws game with everything from the in-between innings entertainment, the boardwalk games, the mini-golf, the fireworks...all of that stuff is just tremendous for the fan experience and we'll make sure that we're ready to welcome fans back in 2021."

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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