Your ballpark bucket list just got longer, thanks to renovations at SEC-powerhouse Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field. After two long years of construction, the school is ready to unveil the renovated ballpark to the world, as Mississippi State’s February 15 Opening Day is approaching.
After an initial round of construction work, Mississippi State played at Dudy Noble Field in 2018, giving fans a chance to see the first phase of construction, as overseen by Wier Boerner Allin Architecture and Principal Architect Michael Boerner.
“This past season, we had the lower bowl complete and that’s about half the seats. We had the outfield concourse complete, which was formerly the Left Field Lounge. That’s one of the most iconic parts about the previous and current ballpark,” Boerner said. “The right-field entry plaza was also finished.”
Leading up to last season, the Left Field Lounge was a hot topic locally because it had to be modified due to safety concerns, and many wondered if the renovated area beyond the left-field wall would retain its charm. However, those concerns turned out to be unfounded.
“We got a great response. There are roughly 95 or 96 outfield lounge spaces and they were thrilled with the outcome,” Boerner said. “With the lounges, before you had to walk through a little trail between trucks. It was gravel and uneven. Sometimes you were walking underneath a grill that was suspended 10 feet above you and was a nightmare waiting to happen. Now you have a concourse that goes around the ballpark and in between the lower and upper levels of lounge spaces. It’s kind of like a parade route with people watching the game, grilling, and having a good time.”
Even though construction wasn’t finished in 2018, the response from universities has created more interest in the firm.
“We have gotten a fantastic response. The university has been really happy. The visiting teams and their athletic departments have been blown away with it,” Boerner said. “We’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about looking at other parks because of it. It’s been great for our firm. We also believe it’s been great for the university. Everybody has been very supportive and appreciative of the design especially after experiencing one year of it.”
So what can fans expect for 2019 now that construction is complete?
“Over the past 12 to 14 months, we have been finishing up the home-plate entry, all the suites on the second floor of the stadium, the Triple Crown Club, and Phase One of the Left Field Lofts.”
The Left Field Lofts are two-bedroom condos that overlook Dudy Noble Field and the Left Field Lounge with views that rival the best in college baseball.
“There are 12 units with an open living and kitchen plan that leads out onto a balcony,” Boerner said. “The views from those are just amazing. On a balcony, you’re 12 feet higher and 20 feet behind the Left Field Lounges. You can see everything in the baseball stadium and the lounges from the comfort of a two-bedroom condo. It’s almost like another suites area.”
The structure also has parking underneath and a rooftop club with a capacity of 320 people that will be rented out for anything from parties to business meetings.
“It’s very unique. There’s nothing like it on any college campus and we’re glad that it’s one of our projects. It’s a great space that’s a nice bookend in that left field area. It kind of closes it off to give it an urban feel.”
Another new area will be the Triple Crown Club.
“We named it after the only two SEC Triple Crown award-winning college baseball players and they both went to Mississippi State: Rafael Palmeiro and Brent Rooker,” Boerner said. “That space is behind home plate and leads to beneath the stadium. There are 60 premium seats that are all field level behind home plate. The tunnel leads to restrooms and other amenities.”
However, the crowning achievement will be what Boerner believes will be an iconic home-plate entry complete with two statues.
“We will have two statues in front of the home plate entry. They are nine-feet high sitting on a three-foot base of Mississippi State greats Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark. You’ll be able to walk through these statues as you come through the home-plate entry,” Boerner said. “Something that will give you even more goosebumps is you’ll be able to see the field of play about 30 feet or so before you get to the statues, which is something we thought was cool and unique.”
With the project complete, Boerner said his firm is extremely proud of the way it turned out–especially as a Mississippi State grad.
“Eighteen of us are graduates of Mississippi State. We all understood the magnitude of this project on this campus. Mississippi State is a baseball school with a history of good baseball teams and coaches. That was one of the most rewarding parts of working on a project like this but it’s also one of the most terrifying things because we better not mess up,” Boerner said. “We can talk about it as much as we want to, and we talk about it a lot, but this really is something unique. Pictures and stories will not do it justice. You have to come experience it for yourself. We are extremely proud of it.”
Images courtesy Wier Boerner Allin Architecture.
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