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The story behind the “100% temporary” ballpark for Fort Bragg game


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This is part two of our series on the upcoming MLB game at Fort Bragg, NC

The Major League game between the Braves and Marlins on July 3 will be played at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in a once-in-a-lifetime ballpark. Literally. That’s because the 12,500-capacity facility will be used only once. It will then be torn down, leaving only the playing field behind to be used by the recreation program for the service men and women and their families.

When Major League Baseball needed this unique facility designed, they went to the architects who are entirely or partially responsible for the majority of the big league parks in use today: Populous. For several reasons, this was no ordinary project for arguably the largest sports-architecture firm in the world. As a consequence, Populous didn’t rely on the team of architects in Kansas City that typically designs baseball stadiums. Instead, they turned to the firm’s Special Events Group.

“We’re actually serving as architects and event planners” for the upcoming game, explained Todd Barnes, a Principal at Populous. The relationship between Populous and MLB in event planning dates back to the 1999 All Star Game in Fenway, when the park’s cramped quarters caused the folks in MLB headquarters to question how they were going to pull off the Mid-Summer Classic there. Populous (back when it was called HOK) was called in to help.

Similarly, Populous worked with MLB on the All Star Game at Citi Field in 2013. For that, the firm’s Special Events Group “looked at all of the existing facilities and how to re-use different spaces for other All Star Game functions,” Barnes revealed. But since all of the facilities there were already in place, that makes the Fort Bragg project quite another story. “The difference with this project is that it’s a ground-up, design-and-build project, so we are the designer and architect on the project, as well as working on the event-planning side. Everything that’s being put in this ballpark right now is from the ground up. (And) it’s 100% temporary except for the playing field.”

You would think the one-time-use nature of the facility would make the design process radically different than Populous’ typical project, which is being built to last decades. Not so, says Barnes. Read More

Touring The Majors Poster: if it’s good enough for the Hall Of Fame …


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During a recent visit to Cooperstown, I made a point of visiting the Hall of Fame Shop. It’s located just inside the main entrance, and just outside the Great Hall with the most famous plaques in all of sports.

I wanted to visit their store because I knew they carry the Touring The Majors® Poster, which we publish. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the kind merchandise managers there have the poster in an easy-to-find spot:  bin number 2. Of course, I had to have my photo taken in front of the display.

If you’re not familiar with the poster, it depicts all 30 current MLB parks on a colorful map. It also includes a table with the facts-n-figures of all the parks.

While I’d be happy for you to buy a copy (or ten) of the poster at the store in Cooperstown, you can also buy it online here on our site. Note that we are nearly out of the current edition of the poster. We will undoubtedly run out before a new edition comes out in the fall.

So this is your chance to grab one of these … either by traveling to Cooperstown, or buying it online here. And this will be your last chance to purchase one that shows Turner Field, because Atlanta’s ballpark will go bye-bye when the Braves are done this year. They move into shiny new SunTrust Park next April.

Hey, if the Touring The Majors® Poster is good enough for the Hall Of Fame, it’s good enough for your (or your favorite baseball fan’s) wall! Order one today, before they are sold out!

Field being left behind after Fort Bragg game: “something we’re really proud of”


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Through the generosity of Major League Baseball and the Players Association, a regular-season game will be played in a ballpark in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. That barely scratches the surface of this story, though.

The game, which will be played on the eve of Independence Day, is a first for a variety of reasons. Not only is it the first time an MLB game has been played on an active military base, it’s also the first time a ballpark is being built simply for a single game — and then will be disassembled immediately afterwards. All that will be left behind is the playing field, which will then be used by the base’s recreation program.

Since I’ll be writing about this for USA Today Sports Weekly, I’m conducting interviews with some of the key people making this unique experience happen. As we get closer to the event, we will bring you their thoughts — from MLB (where the idea originated) to the designer of the one-time-use ballpark to the key figure at Fort Bragg coordinating the event. Then follow us on Twitter the night of the game to see what it all looks like.

Let’s start with Tony Petitti, the Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball.

Petitti said that the original idea for this game grew out of brainstorming in MLB headquarters. “Our Special Events, Marketing and Communications Departments had been kicking around ideas of bringing the game to places where they don’t traditionally get to see the game,” he explained. A number of locations were suggested, but one stood out: Fort Bragg. They got in touch with officials at the base as well as other contacts within the Department of Defense. “We received a reaction of ‘Wow, this is out of the blue, but really exciting!’ When we (then) talked to the Players Association, they immediately saw the value in this and wanted to partner with us to make this happen.” Read More

GreenJackets looking to move to North Augusta


In much the same way that North Little Rock was able to lure the Arkansas Travelers from their longtime home in Little Rock with a new riverfront park, the city of North Augusta appears set to do the same thing with the Augusta GreenJackets.

North Augusta is close to completing plans on an ambitious riverfront development called Project Jackson. It will include office space, conference center, restaurants, apartments, senior center and at its heart, a new ballpark for the South Atlantic League GreenJackets.  The City plans to invest about $61 million in the project in hopes that private investment will top $170 million.

City officials estimate that once construction begins, it will take 14 months to complete.  They optimistically stated that baseball could be played in the new stadium by the 4th of July in 2017.

Details are in the Augusta Chronicle.

A look at Hartford’s Dunkin’ Donuts Park


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UPDATE June 7:   And now the you-know-what has hit the fan. Following accusations by Yard Goats ownership and Hartford’s mayor and counter-accusations by the head of the developer building Dunkin’ Donuts Park, it came to a head on June 6. That’s when officials from the City of Hartford ordered that construction work stop on the site so that an investigation could be conducted to determine who is at fault and what remains to be completed.  City officials indicated that they prefer that the developers, Centerplan Companies and DoNo Hartford LLC, be fired and a new construction firm be named.

On June 7, city officials toured the site. They found several dozen workers within the stadium (some securing building materials so work could be shut down, while others were busy at their normal tasks, saying their supervisors told them to keep working). The City then ordered that all workers leave and the facility be locked down.

The investigation by the insurance company on the project, Arch Insurance, could take several weeks, during which no work will be done. They will then determine how and by whom the rest of the work should be completed. The stoppage could mean that no baseball will be played at Dunkin’ Donuts Park this season, as the team and the Eastern League haven’t announced how the remainder of the Yard Goats’ schedule will be handled.  (Details in the Hartford Courant.  They aptly called this a “construction fiasco.”)

Read on for our look at the ballpark on the day on which it was supposed to open (May 31).

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When word came down that the developer of Dunkin’ Donuts Park was going to miss the already delayed deadline to deliver the ballpark two weeks ago — meaning the opener wasn’t going to be May 31 (or anywhere close to it) — I decided to keep my flight and hotel reservations anyway. I’d booked a lot of other things on this roadtrip around the opener, and I didn’t want to cancel them. Besides, I wanted to see the new park with my own two eyes.

So I’m in Hartford now, even though the Yard Goats aren’t playing here. That didn’t stop me from scrutinizing the ballpark from the outside, as I peered through fences and gates trying to get a look at exactly what’s not finished.

My unfortunate conclusions are these: even now, two weeks after the missed deadline to turn over a “substantially complete” ballpark to the team, it is still woefully unfinished; while I’m sure completing the park quickly is a high priority for all parties involved in the project, you sure couldn’t tell it today.  I know it’s Memorial Day, but no work — at all — was being done on the park.  No seven-days-a week-no-matter-what was going on.

I’d read in the Hartford Courant (which just ran an excellent editorial on the mess, by the way) that it’s a union holiday, so work wasn’t going to be done … but if the developer were committed to completing the park on the first possible date, they would’ve found a way to keep working.  I mean, what if they would’ve kept the opening date of tomorrow (the 31st) and there were still last-minute things to be completed?  Would no one have been working today?

This is awful, because the team and the fans of Hartford deserve better. It appears that it is a facility with a wonderful design, and when it’s finally done (whatever month or, if lawsuits start flying, year that is), it will serve the community very well for decades to come.  But it’s just not ready.

Let’s take a look at the current state of Dunkin’ Donuts Park:

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No tickets are being sold here. This is on the main entry plaza at the corner of Main Street and Trumbull Street.

Read More

Indy park could become home for affiliated ball


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UPDATE MAY 27:  Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!  The proposed sale of the Batavia Muckdogs is off. It would have created the first pro baseball team to have majority Black ownership, but the deal fell through because other entities (perhaps the Orioles, the Eastern League or the Carolina League — or all three) refused to waive their territorial rights to Waldorf, Maryland, which is where the franchise would’ve moved.

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper has the full report.

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ORIGINAL REPORT:  It’s been a common occurrence across the baseball landscape to have a franchise in an independent league take up residence in a ballpark vacated by affiliated Minor League Baseball.  Many notable parks have been saved from the wrecking ball because an indy team became a tenant.

The tables could turn, because a New York Penn League (NYPL) club could be moving to an indy park. The Batavia Muckdogs, who’ve had a for-sale sign out for many years, could be sold to a group of investors based in Washington, D.C. According to Baseball America, these prospective owners would like to move the Muckdogs to Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, currently the home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League. Read More

About the Author

Joe Mock

I surprised myself recently when I determined that I had visited 349 different parks where Major or affiliated Minor League teams are either current or former tenants. That's a lot of pro-baseball stadiums. Read More ❭❭