LMCU Ballpark major overhaul plans on horizon


West Michigan Whitecaps will modernise ballpark Image: West Michigan Whitecaps and Rossetti

Major improvements are on the horizon for the LMCU Ballpark in Plainfield Township, Michigan (US) as part of a multiyear project to modernize the venue, reinvesting in the next 30 years of the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team West Michigan Whitecaps baseball.

‘mlive.com’ stated that the Whitecaps leadership announced plans for a multiphase construction project on January 12th to cement it as a state-of-the-art facility that will entertain and embrace new generations of families, fans and players for years to come.

The West Michigan Whitecaps are a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team of the Midwest League and the High-A affiliate of the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Detroit Tigers. They are located in Comstock Park, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids, and play their home games at the LMCU Ballpark.

The 8,942-capacity LMCU Ballpark is a ballpark located in Comstock Park, Michigan, just North of Grand Rapids, US. Established as the Old Kent Park in 1994, the stadium hosts a minor league baseball team, the West Michigan Whitecaps, and other sporting events.

Shared Joe Chamberlin, Whitecaps head honcho and Managing Partner, “This venue has always been one of the best in Minor League Baseball (MiLB), and we have maintained it incredibly well over the last 30 years. But there is nothing like a NEW ballpark, and that’s what we are committed to delivering to West Michigan. When this project is completed, the LMCU Ballpark will look and feel like a brand-new facility ready to meet the needs of a new generation of fans.”

‘mlive.com’ further stated that a new clubhouse, brand new suite-level club space, other new seating and gathering areas, and all new stadium lighting are some of the highlights of the ballpark’s planned projects.

The project will be divided into phases, with Phase 1 of construction work beginning in just a few months and expected to be completed prior to Opening Day 2024.

The Whitecaps management has worked with the Detroit-based architecture firm ROSSETTI for more than a year to develop plans for the remodel project.

ROSSETTI is an architectural design and planning firm headquartered in Detroit, Michigan.

Chamberlin said the construction project will ensure that the LMCU Ballpark, located at 4500 West River Dr. NE in Comstock Park, remains one of the best facilities in the United States.

Added Chamberlin, “This ballpark is full of history, championships and memories for so many West Michigan families, including my own. Once complete, this project will deliver the venue that the ‘best minor league sports market in the country’ deserves and will ensure that the LMCU Ballpark remains a top tier facility, both locally and nationally, for Whitecaps games, concerts and special events for decades to come.”

All phases of the project are expected to be fully completed in roughly five years, based on baseball schedules, construction timelines and securing needed support and required approvals for future phases from the Plainfield Township.

Phase 1 improvements 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 room and training facilities, dedicated space for 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. The 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; and
  • Stadium lights were upgraded last Fall to brighter, precisely focused LED lights with fewer glares 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.

Phase 1 will also completely revitalize the group hospitality experience at the LMCU Ballpark with the construction of a new suite-level club space and expanded and upgraded group terraces on what is now the first and third base lawn areas.

  • A 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 gamedays 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 a bar space for food and beverage service;
  • 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 all the way down to the 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 relax in the private spaces. The third base side will feature four tiers, while the first base side includes three tiers and will adjoin the new bullpens; and
  • For increased fan safety, the netting will be extended beyond the ends of the dugouts, where it currently ends, and go from foul pole to foul pole.

Fans attending games and events at the LMCU Ballpark during the 2023 season will notice that the concourse third base barbeque area will be fenced off and closed to accommodate groundwork for Phase 1 construction.

2025 and Beyond

Phase 2 will include construction projects in 2025 and beyond, building on LMCU Ballpark’s 30 years of history by completely overhauling the stadium and preparing it for a new generation of Whitecaps fans.

Features of future projects include:

  • 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 a new ticket office;
  • A new 360-degree concourse, modeled after a lakeshore-style boardwalk, which allows fans to walk all the way around the field, enjoy gathering spaces in the outfield area and view the game from a number of different perspectives; and
  • A state-of-the-art 400-seat center field hospitality club and special events center, the ballpark’s largest space yet, that 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.

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