SBJ/January 19 - 25, 2004/Facilities

HOK faces tight schedule for new Nevada ballpark

HOK Sport is starting to design a new minor league baseball park in Sparks, Nev., after local officials selected the firm for the job last week.

The county will go to bid for a general contractor. The Washoe County Commission will discuss a construction budget next month, but it was reported locally that the cost would be between $22 million and $27 million.

The project is a public-private partnership. The county is issuing bonds based on a 2 percent rental car tax it approved at the same time it gave HOK the go-ahead to begin its design, said Bruce Miller, senior principal with HOK.

Bill Rhoda of CSL Consulting is researching the private financing aspect, according to Miller. Miller estimated there will be 8,000 fixed seats and an outfield berm with room for 2,000.

The county is requesting that the stadium be completed by March 2006.

Sparks does not yet have a minor league baseball franchise. "The intent is to get a [Class AAA] Pacific Coast League team," Miller said. "There is a tight time frame, so we have to move along expeditiously."

Preliminary specifications include as many as 32 luxury suites and the possibility of club seating. A stadium club restaurant also could be a component.

"There is a strong desire to make it a multiuse facility for concerts and other community events," Miller said. "It will be built for expansion. That area is growing fairly rapidly."

The location is in a community just outside Reno. "The site has neat views of the surrounding mountains," he said. "It is not unlike Albuquerque."

Isotopes Park, a renovation of an existing facility in Albuquerque, was designed by HOK and opened in April 2003.

HOK will work on a design that incorporates a water theme reflecting the geography of the area, Miller said.

"We're doing conceptual programming with the ballclub," he said. "It's an arid climate, and there is an incredible aquifer that runs through town, so there is an abundance of water.

"The water theme could manifest itself in a number of ways. It could be something like Kauffman Stadium [in Kansas City], with an outfield waterfall, or it could go through the main concourse."

Excluding the water feature, the ballpark will be a relatively modest building architecturally, Miller said.

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