A place for the people – South Korea’s new ballpark design

September 28, 2015

Populous recently won a competition to design a major new baseball park in South Korea. As pleased as we are about the competition success, it’s the local reaction to our concept for the NC Dinos Park that’s really blown us away.

In response to that local praise and support, we’ve decided to share the story behind the proposal, and what it will offer the people of Changwon City.

Baseball is huge in Korea. The Government lists it as the country’s most popular spectator sport, with around 7 million fans flocking to games each year.

When it was announced that one of the Korean Baseball League’s newest teams, the NC Dinos, were to be built a new stadium, we were eager to be involved.

Formed just four years ago, the NC Dinos have swiftly climbed the ladder to rank a praiseworthy second in the league this year.

The team’s fans – workers and families from Changwon City near Busan, are passionate and fiercely loyal. We wanted to create a suitably spectacular place for them to unite.

We knew, of course, that the technical side of the project would have to be just right. Enter Populous’ Greg Sherlock, designer of some of the most exceptional baseball stadia in the world. He and the team worked through a design for the NC Dinos’ 22,000 seat stadium, benchmarked against U.S. Major League Baseball stadia, and it would have been enough to meet the competition brief on its own.

But the design team wanted to give the people of this industrial city in the South of the country more.

With the construction value set at $100 million (USD) our competitors focused on the building. We, instead, focused firmly on creating the best overall environment for players, local fans and families.

We drew up unique commercial spaces, including a thoroughly modern café and restaurant with unobstructed views of the action on the field.

Then for the first time in Korean baseball stadium design, we worked to give not just those with VIP access great spaces and a great view. At the NC Dinos Park, everyone who enters is privy to a VIP vista.

We added in pitching and batting cages for the general public too – a chance for fans to test their own baseball skills. We included expansive green recreational areas, play spaces for kids, even a pool.

One of the design’s most unique elements, and one trending on social media, is the roof-top garden that stretches the length of the building area. Inspired by the New York High Line, and with views of Changwon City, this is the only feature of its kind in the baseball world.

With all that combined, we were confident we’d provided a space that meant a win for more than just baseball fans – a facility to be enjoyed on game day, and non-game day alike.

Populous Director Andrew James, with his years of experience in Asia, was also integral to the win. He believes the facility will be a year-round tourist attraction saying it will be a “major breakthrough for sport and entertainment in Korea” when completed in 2018.

From a great local partner in the Haeahn Consortium, to Populous’ US baseball expertise, combined with Asia Pacific’s knowledge and experience in the region – creating a winning entry was truly a global effort.

I think we’re all proud of the resulting design for the NC Dinos, and equally proud of the impact it will have on life for the people of Changwon City.


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