With relatively few new ballparks planned for the next several years, the trend in Major League Baseball is for teams to implement ballpark refreshes and sectional makeovers. Here’s a look at MLB ballpark upgrades in the works for the 2018 season.
The New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers made waves in the ballpark world in 2017 with changes to Yankee Stadium and Miller Park. At Yankee Stadium, the Yankees added social spaces throughout the ballpark (including a dramatic makeover of the center-field stands to a lively social area), while the Brewers and concessionaire Delaware North overhauled Miller Park concessions to great effect, turning on the Sconnie while streamlining operations.
In 2018, other teams are stepping forward with ballpark upgrades. The Minnesota Twins, who seem to unveil annual ballpark upgrades, are moving forward with a major renovation of space in the right-field corner previously utilized as the Metropolitan Club, a high-end restaurant reserved for season-ticket holders. The new plan has the space made over into Bat & Barrel, a new gathering space open to all fans.
The new space converts a space relatively cut off from game action into one designed to be integrated with the game action, featuring operable glass windows, state-of-the-art video elements and signature food and beverage options. A new entrance to the Bat & Barrel will create vertical circulation to and from the main concourse. And, being open to all with plenty of drink rails and bars, it’s expected to draw in many of the fans attracted to Target Field on a Ballpark Pass ticket.
“The Minnesota Twins are incredibly excited to unveil more details surrounding these major enhancements to the Target Field experience for the 2018 season,” Twins President & CEO Dave St. Peter said in a press statement. “Bat & Barrel promises to be another highly memorable destination within the ballpark, while the main concourse revisions create meaningful ingress and egress improvements for a huge majority of our fans. Both projects are rooted in a commitment to make Target Field better — each and every year.”
Being a student of Minnesota baseball history, St. Peter’s participation in the project means there will be plenty of baseball history involved in Bat & Barrel. The space will feature the Twins’ 1987 and 1991 World Series Championship trophies, as well as a comprehensive display of major awards in Twins history including replica Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, Manager of the Year, Cy Young awards and Batting Champion silver bats.
The new space is the result of a collaboration between the Twins, Populous, Shea Design and Mortenson Construction.
The Twins are implementing other Target Field changes in 2018. In addition to the renovations within the Bat & Barrel space, the Twins are expanding the main concourse at Target Field at the intersection of Gates 29 and 34 near the right-field foul pole. This renovation expands the concourse by more than 1,300 square feet, creating enhanced ingress and egress for fans. With as many as 60 percent of fans visiting Target Field through these gates, the new concourse will cut down on congestion and provide fans with premium new drink rail standing-room locations. Also included in the main concourse upgrade are enhanced concession options including a new tap wall known as DRAFT 34, which will feature up to 22 unique beers from across Twins Territory.
The latest phase of Wrigley Field renovations sees a move and expansion of the dugouts (making room for new premium seating, natch) as well as upgraded suites in 2018. The upgrades completed in time for next season will spruce up the premium spaces at Wrigley Field, as the American Airlines 1914 Club will highlight the latest changes. This season will also see more offerings at The Park at Wrigley, including a new Italian restaurant associated with manager Joe Maddon, and the availability of Hotel Zachary, new premium lodging across from the ballpark. (Why Zachary? It’s named for Wrigley Field architect Zachary Taylor Davis, and the rooms feature Wrigley Field artwork.)
At Busch Stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals are adding the Budweiser Terrace to the upper right-field level of the ballpark. It’s a social space with 20,000 square feet dedicated to two full-service bars, cabana seating on the concourse, lounge seating and SRO spaces within the seating bowl. In addition, a covered performance stage is part of the upgrade.
Opening Day at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, will feature a new scoreboard from Daktronics measuring 8,369 square feet, 258 percent larger than the former ballpark scoreboard. It will have a uniquely Colorado Rockies shape, with the top of the scoreboard featuring a mountain cutout, reminiscent of the team’s mountain logo. This season sees other upgrades to Coors Field, including a new sound system and new ribbon boards in the bowl. In addition to the scoreboard and related components, other improvements to Coors Field will include continued renovation of the Club Level, including concession and bar spaces on the first and third-base sides, as well as a partial renovation of the home clubhouse.
During the 2018 season, the Oakland A’s will debut a new social area at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Known as The Treehouse, the 10,000-square-foot space will include a redwood patio deck with a bar and lounge seating, an indoor area, and a redwood deck that offers drink rails and a view of the field.
“We are committed to enhancing the fan experience at the Coliseum and delivering dynamic and new ways to enjoy A’s baseball,” said Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval said in a press statement. “The Treehouse will provide fans a place to gather, watch our games, and connect in an environment that is casual, fun, and authentically Oakland.”
At Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox are adding a row of seats down the left-field line closer to the field and a dugout suite down the first-base line.
In Flushing Meadows, the New York Mets are undertaking a significant renovation to the Home Plate Lounge at Citi Field. Once the project is complete, the space will be doubled in size and come with an interesting slate of offerings, including complimentary food and non-alcoholic beverages, a private bar, and direct access to the seating area.
The club is open to all ticket holders in first eight rows of sections 11-19. According to Mets officials, the new Home Plate Lounge has the potential to make Citi Field a more appealing destination when it comes to corporate entertainment.
The Philadelphia Phillies have been working on Citizens Bank Park improvements this offseason, but so far details have been scarce. We do know new LED lighting and extended netting are on the horizon, as well as changes to the outfield concourse.
The San Diego Padres will install a new solar power system at Petco Park that is being billed as the largest in Major League Baseball. Installation of the 336,520-watt Sullivan Solar Power system is in progress and is slated to finish prior to Opening Day on March 29. The project, comprised of 716 high-efficiency, 470-watt Sunpower solar modules, represents the latest investment from Padres ownership as part of their multi-year ballpark improvement plan. The Sullivan Solar Power system installed at Petco Park will be the largest solar power system in Major League Baseball and will generate 330 kilowatts of solar power, enough to power the entire Padres front office.
The Los Angeles Angels and Daktronics will install new video displays at Angel Stadium, with the project to be completed in time for the 2018 season. The project will lead to 14 LED displays totaling more than 23,000 square feet. The new right field video display will be the third largest in Major League Baseball at 9,500 square feet.
Finally, the Tampa Bay Rays are overhauling Tropicana Field concessions with partner Levy Restaurants, with $4 million in capital improvements to update culinary equipment and invest in new technologies. The changes will include modernized food halls in the first- and third-base concourses and major updates to the center field experience, including the Porch and the Tropicana Field Team Store. Also on tap: new synthetic turf. It’s an aesthetic decision: while players didn’t seem to mind the new turf installed in 2017, both the Rays and vendor Shaw Sports decided to replace the turf based on its look, not its feel. Shaw Sports, by the way, will be picking up the costs of replacement.
Of course, every MLB ballpark will see updates in 2018, as extended netting is in the works. We had a chance to witness the next generation of netting in action this spring at JetBlue Park and Hammond Stadium, and it was considerably less intrusive than previous netting: the finer mesh and the green color certainly minimized its impact. And we also expect to see other announcements of ballpark changes before the beginning of the season March 29.
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