Insights: Reinventing an American Pastime
Major League Baseball is experiencing a renaissance. Once known as America’s favorite pastime, professional baseball has seen a steady decline over the last two decades. Owners of professional teams recognize this downward trend and have explored ways to modernize the fan experience to meet the needs of today’s baseball fans.
Long gone are the days of the focused attention to the game on the field and enjoying a box of peanuts and a hot dog at the park as having sufficient entertainment value. As a society, we want our experiences to be not only for the experience of the game but also for the social component as well. We want to attend a game with our family and/or circle of friends. We want to catch the game but also catch up with one another at the same time. Major sporting venues are recognizing this and responding with new ways to experience the game.
Built in 1996, the Stadium once known as P&C Stadium has also transformed over the years. Built as a home to the Syracuse Chiefs minor league baseball club, it has seen its team name tag change a few times over the years. Most recently in 2019, when the NY Mets became the first Major League team to call Syracuse its home for its minor league affiliate, to be known as the Syracuse Mets. Through cooperation with Governor Cuomo’s office and Onondaga County, $25 million dollars was set aside to transform the stadium into the new home of the Syracuse Mets.
Design services were secured through Philadelphia-based, Ewing Cole. The new plan includes a refresh of many areas that have not been touched since the initial 1996 construction of the facility. A fresh coat of paint (in a NY Mets color theme of course!), extensive signage and branding upgrades will be made to the facility over the course of the summer 2020. All stadium seating is new for the 2020 season. New modern LED stadium light fixtures and modern finishes are just some of the other new upgrades that the fans will see for the 2020 baseball season.
When originally built in 1996, the stadium was built to accommodate seating for 11,000 fans. Through research conducted by the NY Mets, this number based on current attendance trends has been lowered to 9,000 seats for maximum attendance. This reduction has allowed the creative use of the additional space to accommodate other seating options beyond the traditional ballpark stadium seats. Select seating areas are being modified in areas behind home plate and in left field to add standing tables and standing areas for those visitors who don’t care for the traditional seating arrangement.
There will be two new bar areas added over the course of 2020-2021 season, referred to as the Left Field Long Bar and the Right Field Party Deck. These areas offer a new outdoor social element to the stadium. While these areas may come with more noise associated with a social gathering, they are strategically located away from the traditional seating so as not to disturb the die-hard fans in attendance for the more traditional experience.
Over the off season, winter 2020/2021, the existing Convention Center at the stadium, known as the Hank Sauer Room will also receive a major renovation. With it will come a larger footprint, large operable glass overhead doors to bring the fan experience indoors, a better view of the in-field due to the room being expanded and the viewing angle to the field being rotated as well as baseball-themed overall enhancements to the finishes of the area.
There are other additions, upgrades and needed maintenance items that will be incorporated into the overall project to bring the facility up to modern aesthetics and levels of reliability. With these changes, the NY Mets and Onondaga County are encouraged that new fans will be brought into the facility to experience professional baseball from a new perspective. C&S has been involved with this facility since it original construction in 1996, including a few additions and upgrades along the way and now for its recreation into a revitalized social gathering place for another 25+ years. Hopefully, the Syracuse Mets and Minor League Baseball can have a season this year. An exciting fan experience awaits.
Donald Clark, PMP