Photos by ROSSETTI
”When this project is completed, LMCU Ballpark will look and feel like a brand-new facility ready to meet the needs of a new generation of fans.”
Those are the words of CEO and Managing Partner Je Chamberlain in a news release announcing plans for renovations for LMCU Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps of the Midwest League.
The multi-phase construction project will transform the venue into a state-of-the-art facility that will entertain fans for many years, featuring new suite-level club space, new seating and social gathering areas, and all-new stadium lighting.
When all project elements are complete, the construction phases are designed so that the final product offers a cohesive look, as if all phases were completed together. ROSSETTI took inspiration for the overall design from the familiar lakeshore and beach town mainstays such as boardwalks, dune, and beach grass, exposed beams, and outdoor social gathering spaces.
The project will be divided into multiple phases, with Phase 1 set to begin in a few months and be completed before Opening Day 2024. All phases are expected to be roughly completed by 2028.
Phase 1 improvements will include:
The third base side visitors’ clubhouse will be completely rebuilt and will become the home clubhouse, as the Whitecaps and visiting teams switch sides. The new home clubhouse will offer enhanced player spaces, larger weight rooms and training facilities, dedicated space for the female coaching staff, and a state-of-the-art batting tunnel attached to the home clubhouse.
The grass and infield playing surface will be fully replaced, including the drainage system. Bullpens will be moved behind the right field wall, and the outfield dimensions will be reconfigured to closely match the angles players will see when they reach the Major Leagues.
Stadium lights were upgraded last fall to brighter, precisely focused LED lights with less glare and less light pollution; the new lights are capable of colored light shows synced to music for dramatic entertainment during and after games as well as special events.
A brand-new suite-level club space will be built above the new batting tunnel at the end of the third base structure, accommodating 200 guests for use on game days as well as year-round for special events. The space includes floor-to-ceiling windows, a large balcony for outdoor viewing, various height table and chair clusters, and bar space for food and beverage service. Its capacity is similar to that of the current Pepsi Stadium Club.
Enlarged group space takes over the existing lawn slopes on both the first and third base sides, replacing the current hospitality areas down the lines. Several tiers of seating and gathering areas, from the concourse down to field level, offer a variety of engagement opportunities and food service options for groups of 20 or more. These tiers offer a more cohesive look and feel while allowing flexibility for groups of all sizes to enjoy private areas. The third base side will feature four tiers, while the first base side includes three tiers and will adjoin the new bullpens.
Phase 2 improvements will include the following:
A reimagined stadium entrance experience that offers a view of the baseball field straight ahead as fans reach the top of the steps.
Exterior site activation for more entertainment options in the spaces outside the facility.
Beautification of the facility’s 45 acres, all conforming to the beach theme.
A fully reimagined and updated suite level with a home plate club area.
An expanded concourse with new and improved food, entertainment, and gathering options, including the construction of private outdoor suites for groups that prefer the great outdoors.
A new CapSized Shop retail space and new ticket office.
A new 360-degree concourse, modeled after a lakeshore-style boardwalk, allows fans to walk around the field, enjoy gathering spaces in the outfield area, and view the game from various perspectives.
A state-of-the-art 400-seat center field hospitality club and special events center, the ballpark’s most significant space yet, will provide a new level of gameday experience while also creating one of West Michigan’s most unique views for weddings, conferences, and other large-scale special events.
Kirk Phillips, a ROSSETTI partner who led the project, said it was important to him to ensure that his firm’s vision would build upon an already outstanding professional facility.
“These design renovations will enhance the experience for baseball fans and players alike, creating new social spaces and addressing player facilities to exceed MLB standards. When completed, the improved ballpark will surprise and delight this great community for many future seasons. It was important to us to go above and beyond when reimagining LMCU Ballpark because it is so well-known in the industry as a top-notch facility. We feel the improvements to this unique facility will be impressive at any professional level.”