Southwest University Park
El Paso, Texas
Architecture, Interior Design, Urban Design
CHALLENGE. The City of El Paso and MountainStar Sports Group faced a unique challenge. Both entities wanted to bring Minor League Baseball to El Paso, but the city lacked a world-class ballpark to lure a Triple-A franchise. A new ballpark not only needed to help build a fan base from scratch, it had to play a lead role in revitalizing the downtown of a historic border city. All of this had to be accomplished on one of the tightest sites (six acres) and shortest construction timelines (11 months) ever seen in Minor League Baseball.
INNOVATION. Working with the city and team, we encouraged stakeholders to think beyond logistical concerns, like how many seats the venue would have, and instead focus on the long-term vision. Strategic questions about their aspirations and their concerns got at the heart of what the ballpark should look like and represent.
To capture the spirit of El Paso, we talked with locals and studied the city’s history. Bit by bit, the ballpark’s story came together. Brick similar in the style of El Paso’s Union Depot, for example, was selected for the ballpark’s exterior. The city’s rich artistic heritage, meanwhile, worked its way into the design. Three separate pieces were commissioned by local artists, including a 68-foot tower of stained glass chronicling the city’s history.
We also honed in on other qualities that make El Paso one of a kind, from its location on the United States-Mexico border to its bi-lingual and bi-national workforce, the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The site itself offers spectacular views of the Franklin Mountains, the Rio Grande River and the city of Juarez, which sits less than two miles away across the border.
IMPACT. All of these elements, both big and small, resulted in a ballpark that is far from formulaic. It’s a space that belongs to El Paso. Less than a year after breaking ground, Southwest University Park opened on April 28, 2014. Thousands of fans, many walking over the Bridge of the Americas from Juarez, packed the stands to see their El Paso Chihuahuas in a ballpark deemed by many the best in the Pacific Coast League. Some ticket holders may not have been fans before, but the ballpark has brought with it a sense of pride that crosses all borders.
It’s not overstating things to say that it is a masterpiece.Joe Mock / BaseballParks.com
Facts and Figures
- Site size
- 6 acres
- Seating capacity
- LEED Certification
- Construction duration
- 11 months
- IDEAS2 Award | Building Design + Construction
- Honor Award | American Council of Engineering Companies
- Ballpark of the Year | BaseballParks.com
- Best New Ballpark of the Year | Ballpark Digest
- Ballpark of the Year | DigitalBallparks.com
- Best Projects: Texas & Louisiana | Engineering News Record