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Fielders looking at pop-up ballpark for 2011

Lake County FieldersPop-up restaurants and retail stores are all the rage in the trendier parts of the world. Now it appears that the baseball world will see its first pop-up ballpark, as the Lake County Fielders (independent; North American League) are considering a pop-up facility in Zion for the upcoming season. UPDATED!

According to insiders, the facility, which still needs to be formally announced by the Fielders and the city of Zion, will be designed by LSK Architects and built offsite before being delivered and assembled at a ballpark site at Route 173 and Green Bay Road in Zion. Many larger companies, including Apple, have used pop-up stores to great effect.

The new ballpark parts will complement the field, lights and other seating already installed at the ballpark site. The ballpark design will feature open trusses and multiple party decks.

The fate of the Fielders has been under discussion after the loss of the Schaumburg Flyers in the North American League, given the overlapping ownership of the two teams. Full funding of a proposed Fielders ballpark never came through — local officials originally sought stimulous funds for the facility — and this is the path to a providing a workable ballpark at a lower price.

UPDATE: It’s official. Here’s the press release from the Fielders:

Fans of the Lake County Fielders baseball team thoroughly enjoyed their new stadium last year in spite of the fact that construction was delayed and several of the major amenities had to wait until the 2011 season.

Fielders co-owner Kevin Costner was thrilled the way the community took to his team and the stadium that had just a field, dugouts, concession tents, a scoreboard and bleachers when the team played its first home game last July 2nd  in front of almost 7,000 fans.  Lights were added later in the season.

But looking ahead to 2011, fans can expect a drastically different stadium and it will literally “pop-up” at Route 173 and Green Bay Road in Zion, as construction starts next week.  Final financing for the new stadium was approved by the City of Zion March 22nd.

“The City of Zion could not be more proud of the Lake County Fielders’ organization and the opportunities they continue to bring to our community,” said Zion Mayor Lane Harrison. “We are moving forward with the construction of a permanent stadium in time for the 2011 season and would like to thank the Fielders for their unwavering commitment to this project.  With their vision and the support of our tireless staff we know our Field of Dreams will finally come true.”

Architect Carmelo La Spina, President of LSK Architects, has designed a stadium centered around pre-cast concrete and fabricated steel.  “It’s like a puzzle,” La Spina said. ” We build parts of the stadium off site, then bring it over to the field and put all the pieces together like a puzzle.”

The challenge in this part of the country is always the winter weather according to La Spina.  “There is no way we would have been able to do anything in January or February, especially this year,” he said.  “So we pre-cast the parts, form them and stamp them out.  It’ll take us just a month to have everything put together at the site.”

La Spina’s team at Olson General Contractors is building around the current stadium design adding curb appeal including a grand entranceway with open trusses, along with multiple party decks, and expanded on-site parking.  It’s all part of a 3 – 5 year plan to build the entire area into a major retail destination complex.

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