Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Less Than One Week Left for Stadium

Crews Have Only Six Days Until Triple-A Home Opener

In just six days, the seats at the brand new Triple-A ballpark will be filled to capacity in the very first game for the El Paso Chihuahuas at Southwest University Park. Construction crews are working non-stop to ensure the stadium will be ready for opening day on April 28, 2014.
The field at the Downtown ballpark is lush with green grass. Construction is ongoing behind right field. (Armando Landin/El Paso Development News)

A tour of the stadium on Saturday made clear that there is much left to do before the gates open to the public. Construction workers seem to be working on every level, installing wiring, laying pavers, and generally honing in on the details that need finishing up.

The concourse, which was somewhat soaked from an afternoon downpour, has clear views of the field. Concession stands and carts sit ready to be filled with food and drink.
Stenciled wayfinding signage is included along the concourse at Southwest University Park in Downtown El Paso. (Armando Landin/El Paso Development News)

The team store has empty shelves and display units awaiting merchandise like t-shirts and baseball caps. It is accessible from the concourse level. Nearby, elevators will take game attendees to and from the upper concourse as well as to the suite levels on the upper floors.

Suites are nearly complete, with some including features such as kitchenettes and high-definition monitors. A nearby bar area is also nearing completion, with groups of chairs huddled together with plastic coverings still wrapped around some furnishings.
A bar with views of the field will serve patrons in the suites area of the upper floors at the Downtown ballpark. (Armando Landin/El Paso Development News)

Rooms for the TV, radio, and written press are nearby, as well as the public announcer’s quarters. Future plans include adding additional suites to areas ready for construction.

Far below, beneath the stadium seating, team areas feel much more finished. Locker rooms seem ready for use, with wooden player cubbies etched with “EP” and an enormous Chihuahuas logo decorating the carpet. Nearby, the team’s mascot Chico gets his own dressing room.
A downpour on Saturday left the stadium soaked. The long range forecast calls for sunny skies on April 28, opening day. (Armando Landin/El Paso Development News)

Within the umpire locker room, a giant steel door marks the entrance to the stadium’s humidor. Inside: the baseballs that will be used during games. Humidors have been used in other high-altitude major and minor league stadiums to “deaden” the balls, which keeps the balls from carrying further through the thinner air. This may be especially important in the relatively small Downtown El Paso stadium.

Also underneath the stadium seats, bullpens and batting cages can be used during games and practice. The dugouts are just steps away.
Construction workers set pavers at the base of one of the right field buildings at Southwest University Park. Opening day is April 28, 2014. (Armando Landin/El Paso Development News)

The field itself looks like a lush cloud of grass. Small signs saying “Please Keep Off” are placed along the turf’s edge.

Two buildings that tower over right field seem to need the most work before they can be used. Crews are working at a furious pace to make that happen. The structures will be used for events as party decks with a connecting bridge.

Open panel areas await a colored glass art installation
on the clock tower along Durango Street.
(Armando Landin/El Paso Development News)
Even the main entrance is seeing lots of work. Most of the series of colored glass panels that will decorate the clock tower on Durango Street were not yet in place on Saturday. The clock itself has been installed. It will be powered by parts salvaged from the Insights Museum that once stood at the site.

The former City Hall building was demolished at the site just over one year ago, after a local business partnership purchased the Tucson Padres Triple-A team, now known as the El Paso Chihuahuas. The 7,500 seat stadium will be owned by the City, and leased by the team.

The first official pitch will be thrown just after 7:00 p.m. on Monday, April 28, seven short days away, when the Chihuahuas take on the Fresno Grizzlies. The game sold out within hours earlier this year when single game tickets went on sale.
Panoramic view of the Triple-A stadium in Downtown El Paso. Click to enlarge. (Armando Landin/El Paso Development News)