SBJ/Aug. 25-31, 2014/Facilities

Out of left field: MSU adds lofts to $40M ballpark renovation

Don Muret

Mississippi State is developing residential lofts tied to a $40 million renovation of its baseball stadium.

The SEC school plans to build 25 lofts overlooking left field at Dudy Noble Field, all designed with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and living space, as well as outdoor seats. Buyers could use them year-round, MSU Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said. 

The ballpark is across the street from Humphrey Coliseum, the school’s basketball arena, and about a half-mile walk from Davis Wade Stadium, MSU’s football venue, making it a prime location for alumni attending those games. 

The project, pending the school’s $20 million fundraising effort, is still two to three years from breaking ground, Stricklin said. But the school is looking at pricing the lofts at $50,000 annually with five-year deals, similar to the traditional suites at Davis Wade.

Mississippi State officials believe the lofts will meet the needs of traveling alumni.
Photo by: WIER BOERNER ALLIN ARCHITECTURE / POPULOUS

The lofts and the amenities connected to those premium spaces are believed to be the first of their kind directly attached to a college sports facility. Other SEC markets have developed sports-themed condos near college campuses, such as the Georgia Gameday Center in Athens.

MSU officials have seen the huge boom in that piece of the real estate market and they feel the ballpark lofts will meet the needs of alumni traveling from Jackson, Miss.; Memphis; and Birmingham, Ala., to attend multiple sports events during the school year, Stricklin said.

While discussing potential stadium improvements a few years ago, MSU baseball coach John Cohen mentioned to Stricklin the idea of condos near the park. After meeting with project architects, the idea evolved into integrating the concept into the building, Stricklin said.

MSU, a strong college baseball program, owns the top 10 on-campus attendance records in NCAA baseball history. It’s not uncommon for crowds of 15,000 to pack Dudy Noble Field, a facility with 6,000 fixed seats and room for thousands more, Stricklin said.

The goal for the renovation is to expand fixed seating to 7,000-plus with more chairbacks and less bench seating, in addition to creating a 360-degree concourse to improve the fan experience, he said. 

Local architect Wier Boerner Allin Architecture is designing the lofts in conjunction with Populous, the national firm working on the stadium renovation. MLB ballpark developer and urban planner Janet Marie Smith, an MSU graduate, is consulting on the project.

Residences at sports facilities are rare, even in the big leagues. In 1984, Charlotte Motor Speedway built a 40-condominium tower in the track’s first turn and added 12 more units in 1991.

The Hunt family, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, has a large two-level suite with second-floor bedrooms at Arrowhead Stadium. NBA team owners Paul Allen and Stan Kroenke have their own private apartments at Moda Center and Pepsi Center, respectively.

> DESIGN MOVES: HNTB has made some adjustments to its sports practice. Gerardo Prado is now the firm’s sports group director, and Scott Capstack, a designer for Levi’s Stadium, has been named director of design for the company’s Central Division practice in Kansas City. In addition, Tim Cahill, one of HNTB’s most senior sports designers, steps into the role of chief design officer for architecture, where he will focus on projects across all markets — sports, convention centers, aviation, transit and federal buildings.

Coming off Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers’ new facility, HNTB continues to remain busy in sports, especially with college projects. It’s working on football stadium renovations at Kentucky, Arizona State, Iowa State and Kansas, as well as Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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