Blueprint unveiled for new stadium | NevadaAppeal.com

Blueprint unveiled for new stadium

Darrell Moody

SPARKS – Sierra Nevada Baseball Inc., the group trying to bring a Pacific Coast League baseball franchise to Washoe County, unveiled the prototype for its new 9,000-seat Sierra Nevada Ballpark to the media and other local dignitaries on Monday.

The press conference was held at the site of the new stadium, located on Lincoln Way, minutes off the I-80 freeway. And, just for the occasion, there were base lines, batters’ boxes, bases and a pitching rubber on, what was until that morning, a field full of weeds. The stadium, which will sit on 18.26 acres and cost approximately $29.5 million, is being designed by HOK, which has designed 24 of the 30 major league stadiums.

Once all the local and county approvals go through, ground is supposed to break around Jan. 1.

The stadium will consist of 5,500 fixed seats, 1,500 club and suite seats and 2,000 grass seats. There are 30 luxury suites and all are projected to be sold, according to club officials. A stadium club, with glass windows in the front and back, also will have 400 seats on its verandah.

The field will be natural grass on the infield and have a synthetic surface in the outfield, which will allow Sierra Nevada Baseball to host concerts and other events without ruining its playing surface.

“Everything is on schedule,” said Lyle Miller, the project manager from HOK. “We didn’t come into the project with any preconceived notions. We tried to understand the site and the area.

“These drawings are a reflection of the people in the area. The view of the mountains makes it special. It’s what captured our eyes immediately. I think it’s a tremendous design.”

At first glance, the stadium has a lot of the same amenities as Raley Field in West Sacramento, the A’s Triple-A affiliate, including grass berms behind the outfield fences, a picnic area and an area for the kids.

“I toured a number of facilities,” said Phil Zive, the managing partner of the Sierra baseball group. “We just cherry picked, and took the best ideas from many parks, and still tried to keep within a certain dollar figure.”

Miller added that a lot of what Zive and the group wanted could be found at SBC Park in San Francisco.

While the group of dignitaries seemed upbeat, the reality is, the group must get another round of approvals before the stadium can be started, and a franchise must become available for the team to meets its projected April, 2006 deadline.

“This is not a done deal,” Zive said. “There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done on this project.”

Indeed. The group has to get the county commission’s OK to move on to the next level, and a final decision must be made whether to sell bonds to help finance the stadium. Zive believes it will undoubtedly be a mixture of public and private money. A 2 percent tax on rental cars will help raise funds for the new stadium.

“We’ve had such tremendous support,” Zive said. “Everybody wants to see this happen.”

Also, the franchise must be approved by Major League Baseball, the Pacific Coast League and Minor League Baseball.

The Reno Silver Sox a California League franchise for many years, but the city refused to renovate an aging Moana Stadium and was eventually unable to attract any major league affiliations.

“We could have a Single A team tomorrow,” Zive said. “We wanted to start out at the top.”

Besides approval by politicians, the group has yet to buy an existing PCL franchise. If that isn’t done by September or October, Zive said the stadium plans would be put on hold.

The group has been coy all along about what franchises might be available and Zive said that attitude will continue.

“We’ll continue to be coy,” he said. “We can’t announce anything because of tampering. We have to be careful.”

Teams are trying to have their Triple-A franchises close by, which means that Edmonton, Las Vegas and Portland are very possible. Edmonton is currently Montreal’s Triple-A franchise, and it would make more sense for the Expos to have a franchise closer to the parent team.

Zive said that he will know more about whether a franchise becomes available by the middle of September.

Darrell Moody can be reached at 881-1281 or at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com

information for possible breakout

Stadium name: Sierra Nevada Ballpark

Location: Sparks Marina area

Groundbreaking: Around Jan. 1, 2005

Architects: HOK in Kansas City, Missouri

Cost: Approximately $29.5 million

Seating capacity: 9,000, including luxury boxes

Ticket range: Expected to be $5 to $23

Other HOK Minor League projects: Grizzlies Stadium in Fresno, Calif.; Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.; Bakersfield Ballpark in Bakersfield, Calif.; Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M.; Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium, Montgomery, Ala.

NOTE TO DAVE:

You are allowed to use any of the renditions off the Sierra Nevada Baseball Inc. web page, just make sure you credit HOK. Just go to [ http://www.sierranevadabaseball.com/ ]http://www.sierranevadabaseball.com/