The Iowa Cubs (Triple-A East) and the city of Des Moines are mapping out improvements to Principal Park that will both meet MLB’s MiLB facility standards and eventually provide the ballpark with a sorely needed upgrade in fan amenities.
The Des Moines City Council is expected to consider a plan worked out by the I-Cubs and the Des Moines City Council for a two-part renovation plan, focusing then on the behind-the-scenes Principal Park upgrades needed to meet the new facility standard. The second phase would focus on the fan experience.
On the player side, it sounds like the I-Cubs are looking at the same sort of improvements planned for most MiLB ballparks, including expanded clubhouses, new workout spaces and new dressing rooms for female staffers and umpires. There are also few upgrades specific to the I-Cubs, including secure parking and an expanded batter’s eye and outfield fence. From the Des Moines Register:
“We don’t want to be just compliant and make Major League Baseball happy. We want to be the best player development facility in the game,” [I-Cubs president/general manager Sam] Bernabe said. “So, that’s what the city and our challenge is to get done.”
That’s the focus on the other phases of the project and the park, which is owned by the city. Bernabe believes once the park is up to compliance, officials can turn their attention to other parts of the project, which could make the stadium an even more desirable attraction to fans. The Iowa Cubs are the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs and many of the team’s biggest stars over the years have made stops in Des Moines.
“That’s what the city challenged the architectural firm (DLR Group, Inc.) to come up with–long term master plan is what we need to do, give us some imagination as to how ballparks today look and how does Principal Park need to change and conform to being a downtown stadium,” Bernabe said.
Those improvements on the fan side would include a new playground area with splash area, additional suites and a videoboard outside the park. No timeline on the second phase of improvements; they may take upwards of 20 years. That is truly long-term planning.
In other Iowa Cubs news, the team released a new alt logo featuring a cub to replace the block “I.” The character-based logo will be featured on a solid blue cap the team will wear at home and a multi-colored alternate hat the team can wear with royal blue road or Sunday red alternate jerseys.