SBD/March 1, 2011/Facilities

Orioles Debuting Renovated Ed Smith Stadium In Sarasota

The $31.2M renovation will continue after this year's Spring Training ends
The Orioles this afternoon will debut an overhauled Ed Smith Stadium in "what will be a celebration for an organization that has endured substandard and outdated spring facilities for years," according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore SUN. The Orioles' $31.2M renovation of their Spring Training home in Sarasota, Fla., and the "minor league complex at nearby Twin Lakes Park started in June and will continue long after the big league team heads north for the 2011 season." But the ballpark already has "garnered rave reviews from players, coaches and team officials." Orioles VP/Planning & Development Janet Marie Smith, who has spearheaded the renovation efforts, said, "One thing we're excited about is just architecturally, this little Ed Smith Stadium has been here for like 20 years but without any real personality. I think we're just really pleased that it's come together and people have responded so favorably to what is clearly not just a facelift, but a complete overhaul." Zrebiec notes the project, from DC-based David Schwarz Architects and Sarasota-based Hoyt Architects, "borrowed from the 'Florida Picturesque' style that is evident in many of the city's high-profile public buildings." The redesign also "has a distinct Orioles feel," as retired Orioles numbers "hang from under the press box and suite area, and a quote from Cal Ripken Sr. will be displayed prominently on the outside." Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail has said the new Ed Smith Stadium complex, "coupled with the massive renovation at the once-derided Twin Lakes minor league facility, eliminates another excuse for the organization." He added, "The ballpark has exceeded my grandest expectations. I didn't realize that you can dress that park up to the extent that it's been. It's a little gem of a ballpark" (Baltimore SUN, 3/1).

FLYING HIGH: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Don Muret writes the Ed Smith Stadium renovation has turned the Orioles' Spring Training Facility "from a dumpy ballpark into one of the jewels of the Grapefruit League." The project "doubled the park’s size to 163,246 square feet, adding a second-story concourse with suites and an indoor lounge, new concession stands and rest rooms, a new Daktronics high-definition video board and 100 new HD televisions hung inside the facility." In addition, a "left-field pavilion with drink rails and picnic tables facing the action, four new elevators and an extension of the sunroof on the main concourse to increase shaded spaces add more modern comforts to the park," which opened in '89. Muret notes the ballpark's 6,500 fixed seats "were recycled from Camden Yards' upper deck and club levels" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/28 issue).

SALT OF THE EARTH: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes the D'Backs and Rockies have "ended all arguments about spring training complexes" with the construction of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the "best one ever built -- by far." The Rockies' "astoundingly large Fitness Center is said to be the best of its type in the state of Arizona." Also, the main facility is "so large, it houses clubhouses for both the major- and minor-leaguers, and they share the dining area." Jenkins added, "It goes on and on like this: A classroom designed specifically for teaching English to Latin America players. A training room filled with exercise pools, one of which allows players to swim against a current. A bunting field with its own pitching machine" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/1).

WHAT'S BREWIN? In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt notes the Brewers' lease at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, their Spring Training home since '98, expires in '12, and it appears certain that the team "won't jump to Florida." The Brewers have been "in talks with the city of Phoenix and the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission for a couple of years," and the "questions are how much of an upgrade do the Brewers really need and at what cost?" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/1).
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