September 30, 2014

Elyria
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Designers plan intimate, family-friendly stadium

AVON — The minor league baseball stadium the city plans to build will offer intimate seating for 3,500 and many amenities that will make it stand out in the community, according to the architect team slated to design the ballpark.

Christopher Wynn, director of design at Cleveland-based Osborn Architects and Engineers, said the project — which could cost as much as $9 million — will have family-friendly amenities while still drawing on the design concepts of turn-of-the-century ballparks. It will be similar in size and capacity to Champion Window Field in Florence, Ky., home of the Frontier League’s Florence Freedom.

The best feature of the ballpark by far will be the seating, Wynn said.

“The whole beauty of minor league baseball is that no stadium is built with those nosebleed kinds of seats,” he said. “All the seats will be excellent, very intimate.”

Avon Mayor Jim Smith said Osborn and RWL Architects, another architecture firm, will team up on the design concept and engineering of the stadium. Contracts will be inked soon to formalize the decision, but both companies have committed to the project.

“Together, we have worked out about 90 percent of what we want in a stadium. We just have to make sure it fits the needs of the Frontier League,” Smith said. “I’m pretty comfortable with both companies. Things are moving along.”

The stadium, along with a YMCA recreation center, will anchor a 122-acre recreation complex at Interstate 90 and state Route 611 that could eventually feature a Lorain County Metro Parks water park, ice hockey and skating rink, indoor soccer facility, tennis courts and youth football and soccer fields.

City residents are footing the bill with a voter-approved 0.25 percentage point income tax increase that will raise $1.2 million a year over the next three decades to build the $14.2 million YMCA center and city-owned stadium.

In describing the stadium, Wynn said fans will enter on a main concourse level that will allow patrons to walk down toward the field. For ballgames, the seating capacity with be about 3,500 and as high as 5,000 for special events.

The design includes a press box, 11 suites with movable walls, two team clubhouses, restrooms, picnic areas, a kids’ fun zone and parking for 1,200 to 1,300 cars. A grass berm along the outfield edge will allow families to spread out a blanket for the children as they watch a game.

And, while traditional ballpark food like hot dogs and Cracker Jacks will be staples, Wynn said the design team may add a restaurant near right field that will offer more substantial cuisine. The restaurant would be independent of the stadium but overlook the field.

Lastly, the lighting will not only illuminate night games, but it will also serve as a beacon welcoming visitors to the city.

“At night as you come off Interstate 90, not only will you see the bright lights of the stadium, but you will also see the stadium lit up,” Wynn said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.