Several Minor League Baseball teams have undertaken various upgrades and construction projects this off-season. One of them is the Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League), who are on schedule to open the new club level at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park in time for the 2017 season.
Steady progress has been made on the 6,000-square-foot Riley Park Club, a new space that will extend from the press box down the first base line.
“Our current completion date is March 14th. Then we will go through the approval processes with our substantial completion date for March 24th,” said Jeff Goldklang, president of The Goldklang Group, which owns the RiverDogs and several other teams. “Everything is currently on schedule and moving smoothly.”
Goldklang said the idea for the Riley Park Club project came about after seeing how the public responded to a similar space at CHS Field, the home of the Goldklang Group-owned St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) that opened in 2015.
“We just built a new park in Minnesota and have an elegant space there, the Securian Club, and it’s gotten a wonderful response from the community,” he said. “In Charleston, we have beautiful vistas that we wanted to capitalize on.”
The new club level, which will overlook the playing field as well as Ashley River wetlands, should fit the needs of RiverDogs fans.
“If you want a traditional ballpark experience with hot dogs and hamburgers, we already have wonderful spaces at the ballpark. We have beautiful suites to entertain certain sized groups,” Goldklang said. “But we needed a space for groups that were maybe 10 people, or groups of 25-30 where those areas didn’t fit their needs. Now that we have the club, we can better accommodate those needs.”
The team chose the architecture firm LS3P to handle the design, and has spent considerable time selling the space.
“We started selling from the moment we announced the club’s construction. In terms of sponsorship, we’re really ahead of schedule,” Goldklang said. “We’ve been giving hard hat tours so groups could see how the construction has been coming along and have been selling a good amount of tickets. We have already hit our first budgetary goals for the space.”
There are three tiers of tickets that allow access to the club: season ticket holders, group tickets, and flex tickets that are based on availability. The space can hold anywhere from 200-300 people depending on the event.
“Game-day capacity will be approximately 200 people,” Goldklang said. “Capacity for seated events like weddings will be 225 people. Capacity for standing events like corporate Christmas parties will be 300.”
In addition to a new, air-conditioned space, the RiverDogs are including food that Goldklang said will be of the highest quality.
“We’ve partnered with Mercantile and Mash and The Indigo Road restaurant group. They run several successful Charleston area restaurants including the Oak Steakhouse and O-Ku Sushi,” he said. “They will provide an all-you-can-eat spectacle including beer and wine that we think will be equal to or above major league ballparks around the country.”
The RiverDogs also share the field with The Citadel’s college baseball team, which may use the new club level as well in the future.
“We don’t have a formal agreement with The Citadel but we do anticipate working with them in the future for them to use the area,” Goldklang explained. “There’s a Citadel versus USC game at the end of March that we’ve been looking at maybe being the club’s first event.”
According to Goldklang, interest in the area has grown by several thousand percent since the project first started and looks to be a success before it’s even opened.
“Charleston has become one of the hottest places for destination weddings. It’s become so popular that brides and grooms need to book two to three years in advance to get the premiere venues in the city,” Goldklang said. “Because of the club’s design and location, we have seen tremendous interest from brides and wedding planners. In addition, corporations have become very interested in hosting their events here.”
So after watching the club level grow from a design on paper to reality, what does Goldklang think of the new space?
“The future is bright and we can’t wait to share it with our fans.”
Images courtesy Charleston RiverDogs.
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