Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff Featured on Mural in Hometown of Erie, PA

Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff Featured on Mural in Hometown of Erie, PA

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By Jim Martin
Article originally published on GoErie.com
(Reprinted with permission)

For nearly 30 years, a familiar sign has marked Erie’s Biletnikoff Field, named in honor of Fred Biletnikoff, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a 1961 graduate of what is now Erie High School.

That old sign is scheduled to come down, replaced by a newer, more colorful version.

Half of the work, visible only from the field itself, began Friday as a sign crew replaced the back half of the sign that faces the practice field used by the Erie Royals football team.

The other half of the sign, visible from Peach and Chestnut streets, is likely to be replaced Monday or Tuesday, said Doug White, a member of the fundraising committee that’s made up of friends and fans of Biletnikoff, who now lives in California.

The portion of the sign erected Friday features Biletnikoff as an Oakland Raider, signaling No. 1 with his right index finger.

White said it’s an image meant to inspire the athletes playing on the field, a suggestion that a great athlete has his eyes on them.

The other side of the sign, facing Peach Street, will feature the words “Biletnikoff Field” and “Home of the Erie Royals,” along with an image of Biletnikoff, a wide receiver, catching a pass.

White said the $12,000 needed for the sign and electrical service that will illuminate it was raised from private donations. But he’s hoping that this private investment might lead eventually to a public one.

“Hopefully, this will be the impetus to improve the field,” White said. “It’s kind of rough.”

Biletnikoff himself helped pave the way to get the new sign approved, helping to win quick approvals from both the NFL and the Oakland Raiders for the use of their images on the sign.

“He smoothed things over for us,” White said.

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