The design-build team on a new Wichita ballpark for the relocating New Orleans Baby Cakes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) was officially approved, with design on the project expected to begin quickly in anticipation of a February 2019 groundbreaking.
Approved by Wichita City Council on a unanimous vote: JE Dunn Construction, DLR Group, EBY Construction, Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture and Professional Engineering Consultants.
There had been questions raised by a local construction firm on whether the criteria set forth in the design proposals that the design-build team have experience with three MiLB or MLB ballparks. With those questions addressed, the $75-million project will now move forward.
The new ballpark and associated development will replace Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, which has already been demolished to make way for the project. The new ballpark is set to open in April 2020 and will house both the relocating Baby Cakes and the National Baseball Congress. The ballpark will likely follow the current trend of smaller Triple-A facilities, with a total capacity approaching 10,000 but fewer actual fixed seats– just 6,000 or so. Social and group spaces, as well as club and suite areas, will fill out the total capacity.
Once the Baby Cakes relocate to Wichita, it will be the first time that the city has had affiliated Minor League Baseball since the Wichita Wranglers (Class AA; Texas League) moved to Northwest Arkansas after the 2007 season.
Here’s some more information provided by the design team:
“We’re thrilled to utilize the regional and local talent of JE Dunn, Eby construction, SJCF, DLR Group, and PEC as our design-build team for the new stadium,” said Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell. “Their extensive experience building stadiums and athletic facilities, as well as their dedication to the Wichita community, ensures this project will be something of which our entire region can be proud.”
Wichita’s new ballpark, which will replace Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, is expected to be a family-friendly venue designed with the flexibility to host a range of nearly 200 events per year, from baseball games, to outdoor concerts, festivals, community events, and other outdoor sports. It will be located on approximately 22 acres west of the downtown core in the Delano neighborhood district, one of the oldest and most established neighborhoods in the city that already boasts a number of community institutions, civic organizations, churches, activity centers, parks, historic structures, homes, and businesses. The ballpark will become the front porch to downtown Wichita, allowing patrons to enjoy views of the city’s skyline, as well as the surrounding neighborhood and nearby Arkansas River.
“Our design-build team is excited to partner with the city and the affiliated team to deliver a world-class ballpark and an icon knit into the urban fabric of downtown Wichita,” said Scott Sherry, JE Dunn Vice President. “There’s nothing better than building places that not only make the community more vibrant, but also provide facilities where people can gather and create memories together. We can’t wait to get started on this community-changing project.”
The stadium will be designed to accommodate more than 10,000 fans for a minor league baseball game, including more than 6,000 fixed seats and additional seating in berm, group party decks, and specialty areas for up to 3,500 spectators. Family-friendly amenities will include picnic areas, berm seating, a variety of terraced viewing spaces, and children focused areas. Scattered throughout the park will be casual gathering spaces that will allow friends to gather and socialize while enjoying the game. Supporting the patron experience will be a state-of-the-art LED video scoreboard and distributed sound system, and concessions that offer a variety of standard and local food and drink choices. Premium amenities planned for the park include private suites, loge boxes, and club seats that will feature luxury seating and food service. Team facilities will include offices, locker rooms, training areas, a team store, and ticket box office. A modern press box will feature the latest technology to serve written, radio, and television broadcasts.
“The architectural character of the ballpark will be simple, elegant, and timeless. Our design will celebrate surrounding elements, including the riverfront and future development, to create a true entertainment district the community can enjoy for generations,” said Tom Tingle, AIA, DLR Group sports designer. “From millennials to corporate sponsors to families, our design will appeal to the diverse clientele visiting the new ballpark in Wichita and deliver an unforgettable game-day outing.”
Adjacent to the ballpark will be a new Hall of Fame Museum that highlights the National Baseball Congress history in Wichita and provides space for sports-related traveling exhibits. Visitors will have access from the museum to the stadium, a design feature that generates synergy between the entire entertainment district and the museum. Future plans include a pedestrian bridge to connect the east and west sides of the river and provide easy access to the core of the entertainment district, future commercial development to the north, and the ballpark entrance.
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