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Regions Field, home of the Birmingham Barons in Birmingham, Ala., has been named Ballpark of the Year by baseballparks.com.
HKS Sports & Entertainment designed the new ballpark as a unique destination defined by Birmingham’s history and baseball tradition. Both literally and figuratively, Regions Field says “Birmingham.”
The name “Birmingham” is forged within the façade, constructed of a mixture of shapes and textures of metal panels of the building exterior. Visible from Interstate 65 four blocks away, the ballpark serves as a symbol of Birmingham’s industrial heritage.
“Birmingham has a unique history as the primary manufacturing center of the South. We wanted to respect that legacy by erecting a ballpark that reflects the city’s past and its culture,” said Byron Chambers, director of sports design, HKS Sports & Entertainment Group. Taking design inspiration from the Sloss Furnace, a former ironworks designated as a National Historical Landmark, the roof shape with an extended roof at its peak inspired the design of the ballpark’s first-base side. The third-base side facing Railroad Park creates an urban edge to the park while providing a connection both visually and physically throughout the ballpark to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
The interior of the ballpark is intentionally asymmetrical to echo Rickwood Field, built in 1910 and the oldest active ballpark in America, and also to take advantage of the site, park and the university.
“The asymmetrical seating bowl allowed us to create areas specifically tailored for the Birmingham market while taking advantage of the views afforded by the stadium’s location,” said Chambers. All luxury suites are “double-stacked” above the 360-degree street level concourse along the first-base line, creating an intimate seating environment close to the game. With an urban loft style, suites feature garage doors with glass panels that allow fans to enjoy fair weather or pull down the doors and turn on the air conditioning.
Chambers said, “By eliminating any upper levels down the third-base line, the skyline is visible to those sitting on the first-base line. Those on the third-base line can see the iconic children’s medical center, Red Mountain and the Vulcan Statue.”
Behind home plate and on the third-base line, the shorter, two-story side’s upper level contains Club seats and a Club lounge, as well as a spectacular 6,500-square-foot banquet room and patio. Fifteen-foot-tall windows provide guests with a view of the action on the field from one side, the downtown Birmingham skyline on the other, and the expanse of Railroad Park on the third, enabling fans to feel enveloped by the city.
Fan amenities abound throughout and adjacent to the concourse, including a carefully planned family fun area, locally based concessions, a PowerForce Youth Sports Zone with whiffle-ball field, team batting cages and areas where fans can stand and watch the game. These amenities, along with the asymmetry of the field and seating bowl, create a variety of fan experiences in different locations throughout the ballpark.
Chambers said, “Field dimensions, wall heights and playability were major discussion points throughout the design process. HKS worked closely with the Barons and the Chicago White Sox (major league parent of the Barons) to ensure the field of play was exciting for the fans, and unique to the city while not reaching a level of quirkiness.”
“We’re most pleased with the fact that the ballpark has a sense of grandeur that isn’t often experienced in minor league ballparks. When you look at the park as a whole, you feel that it is more than a Double A ballpark. It feels complete and perfectly fit for Birmingham,” said Chambers. He further adds that the ballpark is open to the public on non-game days as an extension of Railroad Park, further linking it to Magic City and the UAB.
The HKS Sports & Entertainment Group, ranked as one of the top sports and entertainment designers by BD World Architecture, has ushered in a new generation of multi-revenue-generating, world-class facilities. The group’s portfolio includes Cowboys Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, Miller Park and major renovations and additions for U.S. Cellular Field and Dodger Stadium. These venues are known for enhancing and leveraging team brand, delivering an enhanced fan experience, and serving as destination environments. HKS is ranked among the top five architectural/engineering firms, according to Building Design+Construction magazine, and operates from 28 offices worldwide.