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Tulsa officials toss out ballpark exterior design; will begin anew

The nonprofit overseeing construction of a new ballpark for the Tulsa Drillers (Class AA; Texas League) is starting from scratch in a new approach for ONEOK Field.

The issue, apparently, is that the previous plans submitted by architect Populous weren’t deemed to be “inviting enough”: the plans we saw at the Winter Meetings gave the ballpark a vaguely Prairie School exterior, with stone and glass accents on the interior.

Those plans are gone, with the exterior to be more modern and Art Deco in appearance, in keeping what officials call Tulsa’s architecture heritage. Brick and zinc will be the dominant materials in the outfield.

To say the building site poses challenges is an understatement. The triangualar urban site is too small to allow for a full wraparound concourse, so the traffic flow will be impeded in the southeast corner. The main entrance (and where most of the fans will enter the ballpark) will be located behind third base, though the actual front of the ballpark will be on the north side.

The other issue now is timing: construction has already begun on the site, and a deadline of 2010 is still planned. Any changes to the plans must come in the next 30 days or so before the opening date of the ballpark in jeopardy.

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