Cheney Stadium’s new main structure is 30-feet taller than the height of the old building, and its mass will help shield Tacoma Rainiers fans in uncovered seats from the rain, Tacoma City Council members were told this afternoon.
“The structure itself is a pretty nice buttress from the weather,” Neal Schaefer of contractor Mortenson Construction said during a council study session. Its bulk should help protect fans from wind and rain that might drive in from the southwest, he and Mike Combs, the city’s director of public assembly facilities, said.
Opening pitch for the 2011 season is 24 days away, and the $30 million renovation is “on time and on budget,” Combs told council members during a report on the stadium’s progress.
Substantial completion is scheduled for April 1. A public open house is set April 2. Opening Day is April 15.
Schaefer’s comments about the stadium as weather-protection came in response to a question from Councilman Jake Fey about where fans might go to get out the rain..
He posed it two days after News Tribune City Hall reporter Lewis Kamb revealed in a Page One Sunday story that the roof on the renovated stadium covers fewer seats than city original specs required.
Columnist Peter Callaghan commented on the issue in today’s editions.
Fey said he’d toured the stadium and that he’d heard there was a place fans could go in case of rain. Could the construction team point it out?, he asked.
If you’re sitting in stands not covered by the roof, you can escape getting wet during drizzle or rain delays by heading into the mezzanine or lobby area, the main concourse or under the awnings on the first- and third-base sides, Combs said.
You also could spend the time in the team store, he added.
There “are more areas than in the past where you can go and hang out during a rain delay,” he said.
About 2,040 seats – including roughly 270 in suites – will be covered in the revamped stadium, city staff members have said. That’s about 1,675 fewer than were covered in the old stadium, which turned 50 last year. The revamped ballpark will hold about 8,500 fans.
The city’s specifications, changed during the course of bidding and construction, originally called for at least as many covered seats in the renovated stadium as there were in the original ballpark.
So, if you head into one of the covered areas to escape the rain, can you still see the action on the field? Councilman Marty Campbell wanted to know.
“Yes,” Combs said. “Down in the concourse there are plasma TVs” on which fans can watch the live action on the Rainiers’ closed-circuit TV system, he explained.
Campbell wanted clarification. Can you actually see the filed – and the action on it – from the concourse?
No, Combs said. But fans who don’t want to get wet when drizzle falls can still see the game from under the canopies on the first- and third-base sides.
“There are hundreds of seats” still covered by the main building roof, he added.
“I’m excited. It’s beautiful, and every day it gets better,” Combs told council members when he and the Mortenson team began their report to the council about progress on the renovation.
“Up front. We’re on time and we’re on budget,” he added. “We – and by that I mean this council and the previous council – saved and preserved Triple A baseball in Tacoma for the next 30 years.”