Baseball Winter Meetings 2016: Designing the Future out of the Present

Spirit Communications Park

December signals the first full month of the offseason for baseball players and facilities operators alike, but while some bats and gloves reside in storage until spring, teams are actively preparing for the next season. Every year baseball executives, staff, media, exhibitors, consultants and job seekers from around the world converge at the Baseball Winter Meetings to network with peers, attend workshops and discuss innovating trends in the industry.

For 2016, the ballpark conversations are focused on the importance of tapping into current developments and structures when designing and renovating stadiums. For team owners and operators, this is an important step in seamlessly integrating ballparks into the communities they reside in. Aside from using predating developments and buildings to increase the local cultural value of a ballpark, this process also streamlines construction costs and maximizes the efficiency of the site.

With this type of design growing more present with each year, teams and owner groups are also looking to extend their reach to the area surrounding their ballparks by renovating existing structures. These multi-use projects typically involve adding retail space, restaurants and housing to the area in an effort to draw more community activity to the investment. A current example of this type of design can be seen through Spirit Communications Park, home of the Columbia Fireflies, the minor league affiliate of the New York Mets in Columbia, South Carolina.

Spirit Communications Park

With a red brick construction, Spirit Communications Park was designed to mirror the historical buildings that make up the ballpark’s neighborhood, and the right field foul line is composed of 114,000 square feet of office space. For the site-bordering historical buildings, plans have been made to refurbish the interiors to house restaurant, retail and office spaces. For example, the Ensor Building, a part of the historical hospital that neighbors the new ballpark will be refurbished to operate as a first-floor restaurant and second-floor office space. Opened in April of this year, the park was met with universally positive reviews, sending a signal to other teams and the league itself that culturally-immersed stadiums designed as the centerpiece of a larger community development can truly be successful.

Looking ahead to 2017 and beyond, this combination of new construction, renovation and expansion are moving forward through projects like the Kannapolis Downtown Sports and Entertainment Venue. Although each ballpark project will vary in its aesthetics and regional feel, multi-purpose functionality and top shelf experience will continue on in the pursuit of the ever-evolving perfect ballpark.

To learn more about emerging trends and successful ballpark design, meet us at the 2016 Winter Baseball Meetings by contacting David here.

 

David Bowerbower_david has played an integral role in the design of major and minor leagues ballparks and spring training facilities since joining Populous in 1988.David has been involved in more than 30 of the firm’s nearly 90 professional ballpark projects. Recent projects include Spirit Communications Park, Sloan Park, and JetBlue Park at Fenway South.

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