The home of the South Bend Silver Hawks would receive a facelift and better connections to the downtown area under a plan before the City Council.
Covaleski Stadium, the home of the South Bend Silver Hawks (Low Class A; Midwest League), would receive a facelift and better connections to the downtown area under a plan before the City Council.
Here’s the press release from the city:
A multi-year strategy envisions an enhanced Coveleski Stadium with stronger pedestrian connections to the core of downtown South Bend via a reoriented centerfield entrance, a park-like surrounding and blocks of mixed-use economic development.
After two years of study, a plan for enhancements to Coveleski Regional Stadium, part of a larger economic development strategy for downtown’s southern quadrant, is moving forward into reviews by City officials. The plan came before South Bend’s Redevelopment Commission today, and is scheduled for committee hearings by the South Bend Common Council on Monday.
“This project would enhance the stadium facility, create connectivity to the downtown core, create economic-development opportunities and develop a neighborhood around the stadium campus,” said Bill Schalliol, economic development planner with the City’s Department of Community and Economic Development. “This presents a unique opportunity to redefine the ballpark neighborhood. When Coveleski Stadium was first built, properties north and west of the stadium were controlled by others – diminishing the stadium’s visibility, accessibility and connection with the core of downtown.”
In the past year, however, the City has acquired nearly 15 acres of contiguous property surrounding the ballpark. Others remain under the ownership of the Gates family, providing planners with the opportunity to marshal large sites for interested commercial and residential developers.
The plan consists of three segments:
- Enhancements to City-owned Coveleski Stadium, which is leased to the Class A minor league South Bend Silver Hawks franchise. Built for $11 million in 1987, Coveleski Stadium is worth an estimated $35 million to $40 million today. In addition to a new entrance, the changes would enable the stadium to have a concourse with 360-degree seating.
- In the block surrounding the ballpark, creation of a park-like entrance at the corner of Lafayette and Western with new parking areas and two new corridors, which would extend Monroe Street east from Taylor to Lafayette, and Franklin Street south to Taylor.
- Improvements to the wider Coveleski Park neighborhood, bounded by Taylor Street on the west, Jefferson Boulevard on the north, Lafayette Boulevard on the east and the stadium to the south. Mixed-use development could include infill housing, new development and adaptive reuse of existing buildings.
Even as the strategy was under development, City officials have had conversations with potential development partners interested in sites near the stadium for new commercial businesses.
But, for now, initial efforts will focus on improvements to the stadium itself. The Redevelopment Commission, later this year, will consider a construction design contract with Populous for Phase 1, which will focus on Coveleski Stadium. As the designer of such prestigious ballparks as Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Cleveland’s Jacobs Field, Populous also was the architect when Coveleski Stadium was built in 1987.
Phase 1 plans for the Cove include renovation to existing concourse suites, press box and clubhouses to start before the 2010 baseball season.
In Phase 2, the most extensive work will take place. A new main entrance would be built in centerfield, including a team store, concession stands and restrooms. Within the ballpark, regarded berms will enable new enhancements: a bar, a picnic terrace, a high-top group area.
Phase 3 would focus on right field and include the addition of new batting areas, a Kids Zone with kids concession areas and a display area for semi-trucks.
A renovation would assure the Silver Hawks stay in South Bend. The team has been on the block in recent years and was at one point slated to be sold to John Simmons and moved to Marion, Ill. However, the sale was blocked by the Midwest League, and local ownership stepped in to keep the team in South Bend.
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