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Spirit Communications Park, which opens with a home game on April 14, 2016, will mark the return of professional baseball to Columbia’s Midlands region for the first time in more than a decade. It will be the home for the State’s only professional sports team; the Columbia Fireflies (formerly the Savannah Sand Gnats).

The ballpark will be about so much more than just baseball. It will be a multi-use outdoor entertainment venue, hosting concerts, sporting events and community and charitable functions. It will be a public park — with the concourse and children’s play area open dawn until dusk when an event is not in progress. And it will be an indoor event space, hosting private meetings, parties and gatherings.

Spirit Communications Park is a partnership between the City of Columbia and Hardball Capital, which is the owner/operator of multiple successful Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams. The ballpark it designed, built and operates in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was twice named the #1 MiLB ballpark experience in the country by Stadium Journey magazine and has received numerous other awards and accolades.

The City of Columbia approved a partnership to build Spirit Communications Park in April of 2014. Populous, the leading ballpark architect in the world (designer of 15 of the 30 current Major League ballparks, as well as 65 Minor League and Spring Training facilities) is responsible for the design of the facility, which broke ground in late 2014.

Spirit Communications, a local telecommunications company, bought the naming rights to the new venue.

The USD$37m* Spirit Communications Park has been designed to appeal to all demographics and be enjoyed by attendees seeking many different experiences. For the avid baseball fan, seats will be as close as 45ft from home plate — even closer than the pitcher! Even the most distant seats will be closer than those costing a hundred dollars or more at other major sporting events.

On opening next month, the ballpark will offer a capacity of approximately 9,000 for baseball and 15,000 for concerts. It will feature amenities such as luxury suites, club seats, private areas for corporate, church and community outings, social areas for young professionals and college students, and grass berm seating and a play area for families with children.

Spirit Communications Park, and the activity and interest it creates, will also be the centrepiece and catalyst for Bull Street Common, a mixed-use development that will transform the former State Mental Hospital campus hat has been out of use for well over a decade. Bull Street Common will be the new gateway to downtown Columbia. Its rich history and architectural beauty make it the perfect place to blend historic charm, urban living and great outdoor space. Plans include over 400,000sqft of high-end retail and dining, Class A office space, top-notch hotels and residential options ranging from single-family homes to condominiums to apartments.

*USD$30m is coming from public funds.

Nashville Sounds celebrate the opening of their new US$47m ballpark

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The new US$47m AAA ballpark for the Nashville Sounds will become an iconic destination for both the city and for Minor League Baseball. The design of First Tennessee Park is inspired by both the rich baseball heritage of Nashville and an exciting new era of baseball in the city. As part of a visionary master plan for Sulphur Dell, the site of the original home of professional baseball in Nashville, the ballpark will be integrated into a new mixed-use and residential development that will enliven the district 365-days a year.

The ballpark’s site allows for a seamless transition from its outfield to Nashville’s growing network of greenways, which connects the city with walking, running and bicycle paths.

The ballpark’s architectural precast concrete and zinc metal panel façade reflects the musical history of Nashville with the abstract use of motion and colour, while also responding to its civic context. Music City is reflected in the design of the interior spaces, from the 30’ tall reclaimed wood wall in the main lobby to musical themed suites that capture the culture and identity of the city.

The park will also sport arguably the most iconic scoreboard in all of Minor League Baseball (MiLB), in the form of a guitar-shaped videoboard, measuring 142ft-long by 55ft-high.

The ballpark’s official inauguration takes place today, April 17, 2015, seeing First Tennessee Park become a year-round destination, elevating the fan experience and extending the city of Nashville’s brand.


Project Stats

Total Project Cost: US$47m
Seating Capacity: 10,000
Groundbreaking: January 27, 2014
Oopening Day: April 17, 2015
Total Square Footage: 140,171sqft
Concourses: 360-degree circulation with concourse width varying from 24’ to 35’ wide
Restrooms: 8 women’s rooms with 94 total water closets and 42 lavatories; 8 men’s rooms with 21 water closets, 40 urinals and 31 lavatories
Concessions: 6 permanent concession stands with 49 total points of sale, plus another 9 points of sale at the outfield bar, three at the club bar and 15 portable concession cart points of sale for a total of 76. The foodservice ratio is 1:120
Sustainability: LEED Silver Certification. Designers applied sustainable techniques throughout the design, impacting construction and operations of the facility. Sustainable features include a green roof, rainwater harvesting and a rain garden
Suites: 4 field level suites, each with 33 exterior seats and interior lounge space to accommodate an additional 22 patrons; 18 club level luxury suites, each with 12 outdoor balcony seats and 4 indoor drink rail seats
Club: 5,080sqft club space with a formal bar, buffet and table dining; 600sqft of outdoor patio with drink rail space and high-top tables. The club seating and luxury suite patrons have exclusive access to the club level bar and social area
Additional Premium Amenities: Premier seating with fully padded seats in the first 10 rows of box seating. Two club level party decks accommodate 100 patrons each. Three separate outfield group seating areas with party terraces and shade canopies provide a unique experience. In addition, the design includes a centre field bar with a social space targeted to Millennials
Lighting: 100 FC infield lighting and 70 FC outfield lighting using a 6 pole system with infield towers integrated into the roof structure
Clubhouse: 5,086sqft home team clubhouse, including a 480sqft weight room and ample team storage; a 2,154sqft visiting team clubhouse and two
interior lane batting tunnels are also incorporated
Field Maintenance Area: Nearly 7,000sqft space in centre field with groundskeeper’s office, locker room and equipment/playing field storage
Retail: 2,990sqft of retail space with entrances on exterior and within concourse

PRESS BOX: 1,620sqft press box with two television booths, home and visitor radio booths, an auxiliary booth, writing press, press dining counter, video production room, scoreboard control and public announcer booth
Field Dimensions: Left field, 330’; left centre field, 386’; centre field, 403’; right centre field, 388’; right field, 310’

Scoreboard: Iconic guitar-shaped LED scoreboard that measures 142’ long by 55’ high and is 12.5’ above the outfield concourse. Digital display is equal to 860 32” wide screen televisions. In addition, a field level LED out of town scoreboard and 1st and 3rd baseline auxiliary ribbon boards are incorporated.
Site Size: 10.8 acre ballpark parcel with adjacent development sites for future mixed-use development
ADA Accessibility: Fully ADA accessible
Netting: Backstop netting extends dugout to dugout and 45’3” behind home plate, 40’ above playing field
Playing Surface: Natural grass sodded turf – Bermuda Tifway 419, capable of draining 10 inches of rain per hour
Multi-Purpose Usage: Non-game day activities include use of seating berm from adjacent greenway pedestrian and bicycle parkway, as well as hosting concerts and community events

Project Team
Architect of Record: Hastings Architecture Associates, LLC
Design Architect: Populous
Landscape Architect: Lose & Associates
Contractor: Barton Malow/Bell/Harmony, a joint venture LLC
Project Manager: Gobbell Hays Partners, Inc. and Capital Project Solutions
Structural Engineers: Walter P. Moore, Logan Patri
MEP Engineers: Smith Seckman Reid Inc., DF+H
Civil Engineers: Barge Cauthen & Associates
A/V Engineers: WJHW

El Paso breaks ground on cross-border ballpark

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El Paso’s Ballpark Groundbreaking Ceremony, to mark the launch of construction of a state-of-the-art Triple-A ballpark facility in the city’s downtown, attracted more than 500 people. The marketing team used a confetti cannon burst and traditional ballpark music to set the tone for the family fun and excitement that can be expected of Triple-A ballgames, set to begin play in April 2014. Mayor of El Paso John Cook said:

This is an exciting day for the Sun City. Today we are seeing progress and growth in the form of a brand new facility that will change the face of our City’s downtown and anchor the exciting projects which are revitalising El Paso. A great asset is gained for our City with this ballpark, and I want to thank the El Pasoans who are investing in our community and bringing us a Triple-A baseball team.

Alejandra de la Vega Foster, a member of MountainStar Sports Group, delivered remarks in Spanish for event guests and Spanish-language media from the neighbouring city of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico:

Not only will El Paso’s Triple-A ballpark be one of the newest and most modern, but we are the only one on an international border. This ballpark is an asset to our bi-national community – something for everyone to enjoy, for ballgames of course, but for so many other celebrations and events as well. We are thrilled that it will be so close and easily accessible to Juarenses to come enjoy the games and other events.”

Also in attendance were key leadership from baseball organizations including Minor League Baseball, the Pacific Coast League – of which the El Paso Triple-A team will be a part – as well as representation from the Front Office of the San Diego Padres.

El Paso's Triple-A ballpark has been designed by Populous.

El Paso’s Triple-A ballpark has been designed by Populous.

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