CHS Field, the new, city-owned St. Paul Saints ballpark now being built in the Lowertown neighborhood, is already 60 percent complete as builders race to a March 11 deadline using a process that shortened their schedule and made changes possible on the fly.
The ballpark was opened for a hard-hat tour this week by the Upper Midwest regional chapter of the Design-Build Institute of America, which represents contractors who can provide both the architecture and construction functions for building projects. One such firm is Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos., which last year beat out a pair of competitors to land the construction contract for the $63 million, 7,000-seat stadium.
Following the lead of Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium, St. Paul officials are taking steps to ensure the ballpark rising in downtown for the St. Paul Saints will be green.
The city of St. Paul said Thursday that CHS Field will include an array of solar panels to help power the facility, as well as a system to capture nearby rainwater to irrigate the field and flush the toilets in the outfield restrooms.
“I am excited to announce these new initiatives, which will help make CHS Field one of the greenest minor league ballparks in America,” said Mayor Chris Coleman in a prepared statement.
The green systems won’t be cost-effective. Taken together, the solar and water systems add a little more than $1 million to the cost of the $65 million project, while saving only about $24,000 in annual operating costs.
But most of the installation costs are covered by corporate and publicly funded grants, project manager Paul Johnson said. And the bigger picture should be kept in mind as well, he said.
It may be hard to envision on a snow-swept downtown corner near two freeways, but the new St. Paul Saints stadium couldn’t be more green.
When the $62 million stadium opens in May, the home of the city’s minor league baseball team will take a major step forward as an environmentally friendly sports facility.
A canopy of photovoltaic solar panels next to the baseball field will generate 103 kilowatts of power for Minnesota’s newest sports complex, a 7,000-seat facility owned by the city of St. Paul.
“We think it’s going to be the third largest solar array at a sports facility in the U.S,” project manager Paul Johnson said.
Ryan Cos. US Inc. representatives says design and construction innovations have saved millions of dollars in project costs for the new $63 million St. Paul Saints ballpark, but some of the changes didn’t go over well at first.
The team wasn’t thrilled, for example, when Minneapolis-based Ryan first floated the idea of moving the Saints team offices from a nice second-story perch to the service level of the new 7,000-seat ballpark.
But the Saints eventually warmed to the idea from the project’s design-build contractor. The move saved about $1.5 million in project costs, and the new offices will offer field-level views that are “almost unprecedented” in other sports facilities, said Logan Gerken, Ryan Cos.’ lead architect for the project.
Gerken shared the story while leading a tour of the project on a cold Monday afternoon. The move stemmed from the need for change and creative thinking on a project that faced escalating costs. The ballpark is at Fifth and Broadway streets in the Lowertown area of the city’s downtown.
CHS Field in St. Paul’s Lowertown got a dose of summer with its first layer of sod Wednesday. Just after dawn, crews started installing the infield turf at the $62 million stadium. It’s a key part of the construction process that signals the minor league baseball St. Paul Saints will play on the new home field at the start of the season next May.
On a brilliant October day in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood, the vivid colors of autumn were on full display.
Just a home run from the Mississippi, a visitor could see a bit of brown and red (dirt), a splash of yellow (foul poles), a dash of pink (fuzzy pig) and, finally, a field of green (fresh sod).
The new $63 million St. Paul Saints ballpark is taking shape at Fifth and Broadway streets in St. Paul’s Lowertown area, as builders get ready to make the transition from concrete and steel activities to seat and sod work.
Current work includes installation of precast and cast-in-place concrete, steel erection, and mechanical and electrical rough in, according to Brad Meyer, spokesman for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Within the next six weeks, crews will begin to install light poles, seats, and the playing field sod for the 7,000-seat ballpark, which is on schedule to open in time for the 2015 baseball season, Meyer noted.
Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. US Inc. is the project’s builder and architect of record. Ryan’s team includes Snow Kreilich Architects (design architect), AECOM (sport architect) and TRI Construction (construction management partner).
The ballpark is under construction on the 9.7-acre former Diamond Products factory site. The property had significant contamination from its previous uses, including coal gas manufacturing.
Last week, the minor league baseball team played its last game at Midway Stadium, which will be torn down.
The city’s port authority plans to team with Bloomington-based United Properties on a new $15 million, 190,000-square-foot industrial building at the 12.77-acre Midway Stadium property on Energy Park Drive, as reported by Finance & Commerce in June.
They locked the gates and turned off the floodlights at Midway Stadium for the last time Thursday night, after a record crowd of 9,455 turned out to watch the hometown Saints play their final game before moving to a new home in Lowertown next season.
Mayor Chris Coleman was on hand to throw out the first pitch to actor and comedian Bill Murray, a co-owner of the team who also posed for photos and signed autographs. Singer Nicholas David handled National Anthem duties.
The Saints themselves lost to the Winnipeg Goldeyes 4-3, but finished with a 573-426 record since starting at the landmark ballpark in 1993.
For the past 20 years, the St. Paul Saints have built their unique brand at Midway Stadium, complete with a nun who gives massages in the outfield and mimes who perform instant replays. And in less than a year, the successor of Colboar—the Saints’ pig mascot—will deliver baseballs to umpires at the new CHS Field in downtown Saint Paul.
It may be hard to imagine now, but just ten years ago, Lowertown was a forgotten neighborhood with few businesses, residents, and visitors. Now the neighborhood is full of energy thanks to investments like the renovation of the historic Union Depot, the Green Line, and the CHS Field. In fact, the CHS Field is expected to attract 400,000 visitors and spur millions of dollars in economic impact annually.
Matt Connell, a first baseman and pitcher for the Hamline Pipers, won’t miss feeling like an also-ran at Midway Stadium on Energy Park Drive.
At the new regional ballpark in Lowertown, he’s guaranteed, among other things, his own locker inside the Pipers’ prominent new clubhouse.
“This is a huge step up, obviously,” said Connell, 21, a Hamline University student from Turtle Lake, Wis. “We don’t have our own locker room. We don’t get to practice on (the Midway field) consistently. We’ll get to use batting cages.”