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Wednesday, Apr 23rd

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Birmingham mulls changes in ballpark design team

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New Birmingham ballpark

We sense a little Schadenfreude in the air: Birmingham Mayor William Bell is seeking to eliminate two local architects from the design team for a new downtown Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) ballpark.

The Birmingham News is reporting the mayor's office is working to remove Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio and Hoskins Architecture from the three-firm architectural team, which also includes HKS -- a firm with tons of sports-architecture experience. No one is talking about why the mayor is moving to remove the pair, but we have a theory: when the ballpark process in Birmingham first began and Giattina Aycock was seeking a partner, we heard from folks with architecture firms large and small complaining about Giattina Aycock's approach to a partnership: Giattina Aycock would take the lead, demand control and take credit even in a situation where a collaborating firm would be doing the vast majority of the work. Treating a firm with ballpark experience as essentially a subcontractor isn't a cool move; hence the Schadenfreude, and perhaps hence the removal.

In any case, the ballpark design is in good hands with HKS: the firm certainly has the experience to pull off a Double-A ballpark. Too bad Birmingham didn't truly open up the architecture process at the beginning; some councilmembers are questioning whether the ballpark project is on track, and we're guessing it is -- now.

The $64-million ballpark and Negro Leagues museum will be located near downtown Birmingham at Railroad Park. Naming rights to the facility are carrying over from the Barons' current home, Regions Park in suburban Hoover.

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