SBJ/June 20 - 26, 2005/Facilities

HOK patience pays off on Big Apple projects

HOK Sport has resurrected its role as chief designer of new ballparks for the New York Mets and New York Yankees after the teams committed to private financing for their new homes.

The Yankees plan to stay in the Bronx in an $800 million ballpark.
Earl Santee, HOK principal and baseball specialist, has been working patiently behind the scenes with both teams for several years until deals finally came to fruition publicly last week.

HOK is working on five MLB projects, including the Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins and Minnesota Twins. Financing for those three ballparks, however, hasn’t been completed.

The firm has hired 54 designers since Jan. 1, including Martin Smith and Steve Karr. They returned about a month ago to help with the Yankees project after being part of the HOK team that designed SBC Park in San Francisco, Santee said.

HOK will have a separate design team working for the Mets, he said.

The Mets’ deal came together so quickly, after Mayor Michael Bloomberg revamped the city’s proposal to bid for the 2012 Olympics, that HOK doesn’t have an updated rendering that reflects the facility’s plan to temporarily evolve into an Olympic venue, Santee said.

“The Mets project just fired back up,” he said.

The Mets are footing the bill for their $600 million, 45,000-seat venue in Queens, and the ballpark is part of the city’s revamped proposal to play host to the 2012 Summer Olympics. A decision on the host city is scheduled July 6.

The city and state will collectively contribute $180 million for infrastructure and site preparation. The site of Shea Stadium would be converted to parking for the new building.

The Yankees likewise have promised to pay for their $800 million, 50,000-plus-seat facility. The city of New York will spend $135 million to re-create the two recreational parks displaced by the new stadium. The state of New York is pitching in $70 million to build three parking garages and will keep that parking revenue.

Both projects are banking on the city’s sale of tax-exempt bonds to support the overall financing. The Yankees and Mets won’t pay rent on the city-owned properties under the agreements they reached with Bloomberg.

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