We’re seeing more and more teams reckon with MiLB facility issues after MLB’s takeover of the sport. The latest: the Peoria Chiefs (High-A Central), facing millions in mandated Dozer Park renovations.
The new facility rules did not initially cause a ton of concern among ownership ranks, but when the final specs were released and the fine print was examined, it was clear that few MiLB ballparks met the new specs–including many ballparks opening in the past few years–and as a result teams were forced into figuring out how to address millions needed for upgrades. While some teams were in position to address all the new specs at once, others are looking at a multiyear approach, both to spread out their costs and also to hedge their bets in case the specs change again.
In Peoria, the Chiefs management say it will take a minimum of $2.2 million and upwards of $6.5 million to bring Dozer Park up to the current specs. Dozer Park is owned by the Chiefs, which means there’s no municipal landlord to approach. From the Peoria Journal-Star:
“Until I get an architect to walk through Dozer Park, we won’t know for sure the cost,” Chiefs general manager Jason Mott said earlier this season. “But I think $2.2 million is on the low side.
“That’s the downside right now to owning your ballpark. The teams who play in a city-owned ballpark don’t have to worry about these costs. We do. We’ll have to figure it out.”
What’s needed at Dozer Park is typical for many ballparks: upgraded LED lighting to Class AA specs, larger clubhouses and workout spaces, new kitchens and lounges, a women’s locker room, and two batting tunnels. The lighting is pretty much mandatory under the new points system: teams can lose 20 points in the future (infield and outfield lights are evaluated separately), and by 2025 having 20 points could lead to losing the team.