The annual First Pitch Celebration was held this past Saturday night at the local Holiday Inn Executive Center. It was a great time of seeing former players, meeting new players, and reaquainting myself with players' families and fans.
The most exciting news offered by Tim Jamieson in his comments to the crowd was the announcement of a proposed stadium expansion/upgrade. Prompted by the SRO crowds at last June's Regional, this proposed facilities upgrade would add more permanent seating, better office areas, and improved amenities for the ballplayers - a definite need for recruiting purposes. No specific time table was put on the project, which has yet to be officially approved. But rumors among the crowd were that some changes had recently been made to the basic plans, and that construction could potentially begin as soon as next off-season.
Architects' renderings and drawings were on display at the event - I resisted the temptation to walk off with a copy or two (if some turned up missing, I didn't do it). But here is a summary of the plans, according to the copious notes and scribbles I took:
· New permanent seating area along the first base line, extending from the current seating area at 1st base down to the beginning of the current visitors' bullpen. This would include both lower and upper level seating, expanding the current permanent-seating capacity by perhaps a third to a half (specific numbers were not included on the plans)
· New home team locker rooms (4140 square feet): to be located on the 1st base side, behind the new home team dugout; under the new permanent seating area. This clubhouse will be larger than the current one behind the 3rd base dugout (which will now become the visitors' dugout and lockers), with larger areas for lockers, a lounge, etc.
· New concession area (700 square feet): located on the first base side of the concourse in the area now occupied by the unfinished concession/storage area.
· New coaching building (6824 square foot at ground level; 2919 sq ft upper level): to be located just beyond the right field foul pole. Ground floor would include new baseball offices, a trophy room, three indoor batting and pitching practice areas and a coaches' observation room, looking out onto the practice area; 2nd floor includes an open observation deck and a few short rows of outfield bleacher seating. The plans also show "Future restrooms/concessions" area attached to this building,
· New home bullpen to be located just beyond the right-center field wall
· New wooden deck just beyond the left field wall, stretching from the left field (what would become the visitors') bullpen, all the way to center field. Looks to be similar to the current wooden deck next to the third baseline Pavilion.
· New Ticket Pavilion at the site of the current main ticket entrance
I was impressed and excited by the possibilities. The RF foul-pole rooftop seating and the left-center field "party deck" would contribute a new atmosphere to the ballpark.