Softball stadium upgrades to start in June

Published: Friday, April 13, 2018 By: Brian Brus Source: The Journal Record

Bid packages are out, but upgrades worth $20.3 million at the Softball Hall of Fame Stadium won’t begin until the Women’s College World Series ends in June, project officials said.

The City Council recently approved issuing general obligation bonds to pay for the stadium and several other infrastructure needs. Even before the bond sale was finished, city staff and Triad Design Group had a list of improvements ready to launch. The bid package for those improvements posted this month. The return bid deadline is May 9, and the award is scheduled for May 22.

The 31-year-old stadium, directly north of the city zoo, has hosted the Women’s College World Series since 1990. Officials at the USA Softball national sports organizing committee said they would promise to stay with the park through the 2035 season only if City Hall promised to make improvements, particularly the addition of 4,000 seats to bring capacity up to 11,300.

City residents approved the deal as part of a much larger funding mechanism, nearly $1 billion in bond debt to pay for ongoing infrastructure and facilities costs.

City Hall spokeswoman Shannon Cox and Triad principal Don Douglas said construction will commence as soon as the championship series concludes in June. The improvements will be put in over two years.

Triad has worked on the complex in some capacity since 2003. After being named architect and engineer for the latest project, Triad enlisted a sports consulting firm to help with certain concerns such as ensuring spectators have good lines of sight and providing comprehensive news media electronics access.

At the concourse and lower levels of the stadium, work will feature basic amenities such as kitchen space, restrooms, elevators, ticket booths and committee workrooms. The more cutting-edge upgrades on the upper level won’t be obvious to the public, components such as a so-called green room to shoot interview video, network electronics, announcers’ booth and dedicated space for ESPN sports network broadcasts.

Douglas said media technology is the most important upgrade feature next to additional seating. However, increasingly popular arena amenities such as electric outlets under fans’ seats, next-generation cellular connectivity, more screens and greater Wi-Fi bandwidth weren’t in City Hall’s plans. By the time another upgrade is needed, the technology will probably be far beyond what people can imagine now, he said.

“ESPN brings their trailers in when they set up,” Douglas said. “They’ll be able to plug all that wiring and technology from their trailers into the press area now. … We’ve got about as much current technology as we can get into it.”

There is a high probability that an Oklahoma-based company will win the contract for electronics installation, he said, pinning the odds at about 90 percent.


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