Beyond the Bricks
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Beyond the Bricks

Offseason Evolution

About $2.5 million in upgrades ongoing at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, including new field lights and a complete field replacement

A complete field renovation is underway at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, as well as a total field light replacement — both projects are firsts for the ballpark, which originally opened in April 1998. Photo by Lisa Johnson.

A flurry of improvements and renovations are underway at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in preparation for the 2019 Oklahoma City Dodgers season.

Almost every nook of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark seems to be abuzz with activity more than two months before players take the field to open the stadium’s 22nd season April 4 against San Antonio.

The list of projects includes a complete replacement of the 120,000-square-foot playing surface. New LED field lights are being installed on six poles towering around the ballpark. A new Baseline Patio hospitality area will be added to the top of section 115. New digital boards on the concourse will provide innovative opportunities to disperse information to fans. Additional behind-the-scenes improvements are also in the works or have been completed in and around the stadium.

All told, about $2.5 million in improvements will be made at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark prior to the start of the 2019 season.

“These are all important things for the long-term health of this building,” OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes said. “For the City to make these investments is a commitment to how this building can be used for another 20 years.”

One of the most visible and extensive projects currently in motion is the first field renovation since the ballpark originally opened in April 1998.

The transformation of the field at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark from the 2018 baseball season to Jan. 25, 2019. Photos by Lisa Johnson.

The playing surface is being rebuilt layer by layer, as new drainage, irrigation, infield and warning track material and grass are installed, utilizing the latest technology.

More than 500 dump truck loads of dirt, sand, sod and other material were hauled out of the ballpark last fall — totaling more than 13 million pounds. Workers dug an average of about 22 inches deep across the field, including the removal of original drainage and irrigation infrastructure.

The rebuild includes layers of drainage, sub base, pea gravel, irrigation and root zone material (a mixture of sand and peat moss) topped with specialized infield and warning track material and, finally, sod.

The new playing surface is designed to drain 24 inches of rain per hour, and most of that water will be reused, as a new gravity-based water reclamation system is being installed. Seven tanks, each measuring 12.5 feet in height, are being buried in the right field area of the warning track to hold water for reuse by the irrigation system, saving both resources and money. The storage tanks have a combined capacity of about 30,000 gallons for an estimated annual savings of close to 1.9 million gallons of water.

A new variety of grass will be the crowning piece of the project. About 95,000 square feet of drought-tolerant Bermuda grass called TifTuf™ — currently growing in northern Texas — is scheduled to be installed at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in early March.

New LED field lights await installation at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark along Reno Avenue. Photo by Lisa Johnson.

Another major project currently underway at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark is the replacement of the ballpark’s field lights with LED technology, specifically known as a state-of-the-art SportsCluster System™ produced by Musco Lighting.

This is the first full light replacement in the history of the ballpark, and the new LED lights will provide increased clarity for players and fans, while also reducing energy consumption.

Musco Lighting is considered the preeminent purveyor in sports lighting and has installed similar systems in six Major League ballparks and 14 additional Minor League ballparks.

Cranes are currently lifting stanchions of lights into place at the tops of six existing poles. Uplights have been added to the poles to illuminate fly balls, and lighting controls have also been installed on the poles for easier access if issues arise.

The original lighting system was comprised of 156 fixtures that used about 2,000 watts per light or about 312,000 watts total to power the system. The new lighting system includes 160 downlights utilizing about 1,150 watts per light, and 18 ball tracker lights utilizing approximately 575 watts per light, meaning about 194,000 watts total will be needed to power the new system — an improvement of about 40 percent.

The total visible light output of the new system is more than 19 million lumens, or the equivalent visible light output of about 16,000 household 100-watt bulbs (about 1,200 lumens each). Even with this extreme amount of overall light output, the pitcher, center field and batter’s eye areas will only receive about 1,000 candela of light at those points. For comparison, a typical car’s low beam headlights output about 10,000 candela.

New LED field lights are secured on stanchions to be fitted to the top of six light poles around Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Photo by Lisa Johnson.

The new lighting system will be “instant on,” without any warm-up time needed for the bulbs, allowing the lighting display to potentially be synched to music or included in the celebration of home runs or wins.

Byrnes said having the new playing surface and updated lighting system in place for the upcoming season are key elements in the team’s relationship with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as Oklahoma City strives to provide a first-class facility to the organization’s players.

“Between the new playing surface and new lights, we truly feel our players will have one of the best environments to perform across Minor League Baseball,” Byrnes said in a release.

Construction is set to begin soon on a new hospitality area replacing the top six rows of section 115 along the first-base line. The new Baseline Patio will accommodate groups of 30–50, offering all-inclusive food and beverage packages. The space will include areas for seating and mingling, with mesh seats, high-top tables and multi-person lounge benches with built-in beverage holders. Trex decking will give the hospitality space a distinctive look.

“One of the biggest trends in sports business over the last few years has been adding multiple group and hospitality spaces within a venue,” Byrnes said in a release. “With the success of our Budweiser Deck, Oklahoma Fidelity Bank Club and Legends Lounge, the demand is present to add another similar space.”

Renderings of the new Baseline Patio hospitality area to be constructed at the top of section 115. Renderings courtesy of OKC Dodgers.

In conjunction with Minor League Baseball™, the OKC Dodgers are one of 26 teams that will install new smart screens along the concourse from ISM Connect as part of the Allegiant Airline Network.

Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark will have a total of 14 screens, which have the ability to offer team facts, trivia, social media engagement and more. The smart screens can be integrated with each fan’s individual mobile device, and each monitor is outfitted with smart cameras to intake fan demographics and adjust the ballpark experience based on that information in real time.

In addition, the roof of the ballpark was resealed and the stairs to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on the Mickey Mantle Plaza were replaced.

HVAC and plumbing projects are ongoing as part of a multi-year list of slated improvements throughout the ballpark.

New LED light stanchions are lifted into place along the west side of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Photo by Lisa Johnson.

The funding for all of these offseason projects is coming from two key sources.

In 2017, Oklahoma City voters approved bond propositions as part of the “Better Streets, Safer City” initiative. These general obligation bonds are covering the costs of the field renovation, field light replacement and HVAC projects.

The Baseline Patio is being paid for by a city-instituted facility fee included in all event tickets since 2014.

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