HKS-Designed MLB Spring Training Ballparks Open
The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches
The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches – the Spring Training home for the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals – has opened in West Palm Beach, Florida. The 160-acre site is the largest in Spring Training and features a 6,440 seat stadium as its centerpiece. Other fan-friendly amenities include lawn seating for up to 1,000, a 360-degree open-air concourse, playground, community plaza, city park and a 1.75 mile walking trail. HKS is the design architect, and EDSA is the landscape architect.
“We applied lessons learned from designing the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and Camelback Ranch spring training facilities in Arizona to create a truly intimate baseball experience for fans,” said Mo Stein, HKS project principal. “The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is designed to maximize fan engagement and comfort. From the moment fans arrive, they are immersed in the game – whether they’ve come early to watch morning workouts, take in batting practice or seek out autographs.”
The ballpark itself sits in the center of the site and in the middle of the practice fields and clubhouses, unlike many sports complexes that separate the stadium from auxiliary facilities. A complete trail runs through the site, opening up the entire facility to fans and maximizing accessibility between players and fans. The rolling landscape creates expansive views of the training fields or ballpark, visible from anywhere on the site.
“We created a phenomenal fan-friendly and experiential design,” said Fred Ortiz, HKS principal. “Fans are exposed to training fields and workout facilities before they even step foot in the ballpark, and they don’t have to miss a pitch if they’ve gone for a stroll around the concourse. Fans are never far away from the game.”
A prominent art installation by celebrated artist Blessing Hancock is installed above the concourse. From a distance, the sculpted stainless steel panels resemble a cluster of palms. Closer, the panels reflect a grid pattern of tiny baseball players in motion.
The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches has 12 practice fields – six for each team. The Astros have one with the exact dimensions of Minute Maid Park in Houston, while the Nationals have two that mirror the layout of Nationals Park in Washington. In what is believed to be a major league first, the Nationals have an outdoor pool adjacent to their clubhouse, with four lanes outfitted for resistance training.
Joker Marchant Stadium
Joker Marchant Stadium – the Spring Training home for the Detroit Tigers since 1934 – officially re-opened after extensive renovations to modernize the facility. HKS also designed the stadium’s last round of renovations in 2004.
“Joker Marchant Stadium is one of the most historic and beloved facilities in all of Spring Training,” said David Skaggs, HKS principal. “The new renovations will greatly enhance the fan experience, comfort and accessibility while honoring the legacy of the facility.”
The renovations include fan-friendly amenities like new grandstand areas, wider concourses and expanded concessions. The left field bleachers were removed and replaced with new field-level seating, and a new shade canopy was added over the grandstand. More multi-tiered fan gathering areas were added, in addition to dedicated premium lounges and hospitality suites. The ‘Runway’, a new space in right field with a long drink rail, concessions and seating, references the site’s history as an aerial training center during World War II.
Beyond right field, new administrative offices are part of an 85,000-square-foot complex that also includes a state-of-the-art clubhouse and upgraded training facilities. The 9,400-square-foot weight room is believed to be the largest among MLB spring training facilities.