By Anne Cosgrove
Published in the September 2007 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
Whenthe St. Louis Cardinals won the 2006 World Series in its home stadium,it was the proverbial icing on the cake for the team. That season wasthe first the major league baseball team played in its new ballpark,Busch Stadium. The previous ballpark, located adjacent to the site ofthe new facility, had served as the team’s home since it was built in1966 and held much history for the ball club. However, in the late1990s, discussions about building a new stadium began to intensify.
In1996, then owner Anheuser-Busch sold the baseball team, its stadium,and additional surrounding property. The new principal owner, BillDeWitt, Jr., and his management team began to evaluate the existingstadium to determine its potential for the next several decades.
JoeAbernathy, vice president of stadium operations for the St. LouisCardinals, explains, “Throughout the early 90s, we spent millions ofdollars to make improvements, and around 1997, we found ourselves at apoint where we had done about everything we could. We had used up everysquare inch of space.”
The Cardinals had hired HOK Sport of Kansas City, MO forthe work done during the 1990s, and when considering whether to stay orgo, the team turned to the architecture firm to help evaluate thesituation. “In working with us on the old stadium, HOK Sport began tounderstand the Cardinals’ operations philosophy,” says Abernathy. “So,it was natural for us to go to them first. They helped us conduct athorough evaluation and study to decide what more we could do with thepark. We could have upgraded mechanical systems, electrical systems,and the like, but we decided the best way for future revenueenhancement was to go with a new ballpark.”
Another factor in the decision to build a new facilitywas that the old stadium was built as a multipurpose facility for bothbaseball and football games. The opportunity to build a stadiumexclusively for baseball was very attractive to the owners.
“Weengaged HOK Sport in the initial conceptual planning as we began toenvision what we wanted this place to be,” says Abernathy. The locationof the new stadium was primary in this vision. For 30 years, theCardinals had been located in downtown St. Louis near major roadwaysand public transportation, and the owners liked the idea of remainingthere. Sited adjacent to the existing stadium was a parking lot ownedby the Cardinals, and that property quickly became a possibility.
“Wethought it would be great if we could put a ballpark there,” recallsAbernathy. “Initially, the site was deemed not big enough for ourneeds, but it was the right place from a parking and transportationstandpoint.” Ultimately, while some changes were required tosurrounding roadways, and phased construction would be necessary due tothe proximity of the old stadium, the team decided on the adjacent sitefor the new ballpark.
This site choice also enabled theCardinals to pursue a mixed-use development on the old stadium site.The six-block area—Ballpark Village—will feature retail, business, andresidential establishments and is expected to be complete in 2009.
TheSt. Louis Cardinals have an undeniable place in the heart of the city,and the new stadium offered the chance to increase this sentiment bylinking the team visually. One of the first things the design team didwas to orient the playing field so fans behind home plate would lookout on the downtown skyline, complete with the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
“Wealso didn’t want the ballpark totally enclosed. We wanted to make thatconnection to the city,” says Abernathy. “This approach was well donein Pittsburgh with their park. The views there are just gorgeous.” [Tolearn about Pittsburgh’s stadium, read the TFM article, “PNC Park HitsA Grand Slam” by Heidi Schwartz, February 2004, page 22; online atfacilityexecutive.com/tfm_04_02_showcase.asp.]
Inaddition to opening up the stadium to downtown views, the architects atHOK Sport were also tasked with designing a facility with a pleasingarchitectural scale. Jim Chibnall, senior project designer from HOKSport, explains, “We tried to create a consistent architecturalvocabulary with the brick and the openings around the stadium. This isa very large building, and we needed to do that in a way that mediatedthe scale, so we introduced entry points at the corners. This began tosuggest a level of scale and proportion the Cardinals desired.”
Designing The New Stadium
Beyondrevenue enhancement, the team identified several things central to thedesign of the new ballpark. The first was to optimize sightlines fromthe stadium seating. “The Cardinals wanted HOK Sport to design afacility that was strictly for the game of baseball,” explainsChibnall. “Most fans like to experience the game from the foul polesin, so we looked to maximize the seating from foul pole to foul pole,in the infields.” Another objective was to site as many of the 43,975seats as close to the field as possible.
Specialtyseating areas and related amenities were paramount to the new buildingprogram. Included in this plan was the Cardinals Club, which featured600 seats directly behind home plate.” It makes it a great experiencefor the fans,” says Abernathy, also noting that food, beverage, andparking fees are included in the price of the game ticket in thatsection.
Suites were also of prime importance to howthe building was configured. “We didn’t necessarily want to increasethe number of suites from what we had in the old building,” explainsAbernathy. “However, we concentrated on making the 63 suites bigger andof better quality. All the suites are now located on the infield. Westacked them on two levels between first and third base, within thefoul poles. We also pushed them down lower in the building.”
Creatinga club level chock full of amenities was also important. Despite themany improvements at the old stadium, Abernathy notes, “We neverachieved a full blown club level there, a specialty interior concoursewhere people in those seats could access premium concessions.” In thenew stadium, the club level is located adjacent to 3,000 seats.
In terms of mapping out the spaces, party rooms were animportant component. Historically, group sales for the Cardinals arevery popular, explains Abernathy. “One of the features that has helpedus make that work are the party rooms,” he says. “We differentiate theparty rooms from the suites, as they are a premium area sold on a gameby game basis as opposed to a season basis.”
The 45 partyrooms offer a variety of sizes. Other club areas provide settings forprivate gatherings, from conference rooms that hold 16 people to theoutdoor Ford Plaza with a 2,500 person capacity. In between, there isthe Cardinals Club, which can hold up to 500 people, and the Bank ofAmerica Club with a capacity of 100 for non-baseball events.
Howpeople would enter into and circulate through the stadium was asignificant focus as well. The old stadium featured a series of ramps,which was the primary mode of movement. Thirteen elevators and nineescalators were placed in the new stadium, a substantial improvementfrom the old facility, which had two elevators and no escalators.
“Achievingfull ADA compliance was important to us,” says Abernathy. “In the oldbuilding, we had done many things to address compliance, but buildingthe new stadium enabled us to become fully compliant with the ADA.”
Thestadium was also sited in such a way that 40% of the seats areaccessible from the main concourse level, without requiring the use ofan escalator or elevator. In the old stadium, about 20% of the seatsoffered this accessibility.
Stadiums Side By Side
Theteam broke ground in January 2004 with the goal to be ready for the2006 season. Abernathy notes that this timetable is fairly typical fornew ballparks the size of Busch Stadium. However, the fact that theexisting stadium would remain operational, in addition to its closeproximity to the construction site, required extra planning.
The team decided on a phased construction approach inorder to build the stadium in a logical fashion while adhering to theschedule. The demolition of the existing stadium was planned forOctober 2005, six months prior to completion of the new facility.
Abernathynotes, “A lot of our design decisions were impacted by the phasedapproach as we understood where the old building would overlap with thenew structure. For instance, the new stadium doesn’t have a fullbasement where the two buildings overlapped.”
The seats in the new stadium that would be nearest tothe existing stadium were another issue. “Once the old stadium camedown, there would be about 10,000 seats that remained to be built byApril 2006,” explains Chibnall. “About 5,000 were completed by OpeningDay, and the remaining seats would be complete by the July All-Starbreak.” In fact, all seats were in by June of that year.
Achallenge in terms of operations was also present, since the existingstadium would be in use throughout virtually the entire constructionperiod. And as it happens, the two baseball seasons during whichconstruction occurred saw record attendance.
Opening day in2004 included a visit from President George W. Bush, who threw theceremonial first pitch. The Cardinals made it to the post season bothyears including the World Series in 2004 where they lost to the BostonRed Sox and the National League Championship Series in 2005. Duringeach of those seasons, over three million people visited the stadium.
“Wehad so much activity occurring in the existing park while building thenew park that in some cases was just 20 feet away,” says Abernathy.“Most of our parking was taken away when construction began. Also, theaccess we used to our loading dock was the same access the contractorsused to enter the job site. The coordination required and the impact onoperations was quite significant and required constant vigilance on ourpart and the contractors’ part to ensure the safety of our guests aswell as the progress of the project.”
Technology Aids Operations
Aswith most new facilities, modern building systems were a priority inthe new Busch Stadium. The network infrastructure was built around afiber optic backbone capable of accommodating a variety of systems. Thecomputer network and the VoIP telephone system were placed on thisbackbone.
The fiber optic backbone also enabled Abernathy toinstall an upgraded security system. “We were able to create a digitalsecurity network so we record all surveillance video digitally, ratherthan on VHS tape,” he says. “The presence of the fiber backbone enabledus to invest in more cameras, since the wiring these would require wasalready in place.”
In addition to the increased number ofcameras, the team installed mega-pixel cameras, which provide imageswith very high resolution. Abernathy notes that these cameras wereplaced at crucial locations where identifying a person’s face would beimportant.
On the wireless front, Abernathy explains thatthey wanted to provide a robust network in the stadium for severalreasons. “We have many members of the media that come into the buildingwho need Internet access, and we developed a virtually fully wirelessbuilding,” he says. “We worked with cell phone providers to reinforcetheir signals in the building to address cell phone usage and Internetaccess. This also gives fans the ability to use their wireless deviceswhile in the ballpark.”
The upgraded technology in the newstadium required Abernathy to work more closely with the organization’sIT department, and it is something he embraces while also noting thegrowing link between facilities management and IT operations. “Whenthere is a problem with a building system, I need them to be there withmy electrician and my mechanical technician, so when we’re evaluating aproblem, we know if it’s a straight electrical issue or a networkproblem. We now have those resources that are part of our regularoperations team.”
Settling Back In
A year and ahalf out from its opening, the new stadium has quickly become adistinctive part of St. Louis as Abernathy and his staff continue toimprove it. “As any facility manager knows, there is always somethingthat needs improvement,” he says. “We have spent more than $3 millionin the building in between this last off season to make improvements,which included adding three escalators. But, we’ve had very goodfeedback. The fans love the architecture of the building, the widerconcourses, and the seating angles.”
Says Chibnall, “TheCardinals and the design team really captured the spirit of a newbaseball park in the city. It’s an exceptional place to watchbaseball.” Those who take in a game at Busch Stadium should be sure toagree.
Name of Organization: Busch Stadium for St. Louis Cardinals.
Type of Facility: New.
Function of Facility: Major League Baseball ballpark.
Location: St. Louis, MO.
Square Footage: 1,496,314.
Budget: $365 million (total project cost); $278 million (construction cost).
Construction Timetable: (design start) October 2001; (groundbreaking) January 2004; (opening) April 2006.
Cost Per Square Foot: $243.93 (based on total project cost); $185.78 (based on construction cost).
Facility Owner: St. Louis Cardinals.
Facility Manager: Joe Abernathy.
Architect: HOK Sport (design architect); HOK St. Louis (architect of record).
General Contractor/Construction Manager: Hunt Construction Group/Kwame Construction.
Electrical/Mechanical Engineer and Lighting Designer: M-E Engineers.
Structural Engineer: Bliss & Nyitray.
Interior Designer: Rafael Architects/HOK Sport.
Landscape Architect: Lewisites; HOK St. Louis Planning Group.
Dining Chairs: Bernhardt; Loewenstein; Knoll.
Barstools: Bernhardt; Loewenstein; Charles Allen; Epic.
Dining Tables: Epic; Designworks.
Occasional Tables: HBF; Nucraft; Loewenstein; Bernhardt.
Lounge Furniture: HBF; Bernhardt; Brayton; Loewenstein.
Office Task Chairs: Knoll; Cramer.
Office Tables/Credenzas: Knoll; Nucraft; Nevins.
Office Workstations: Knoll.
Seating: American Seating.
Storage: Nucraft; Nevins; Knoll; Troy Wesnidge; Republic Storage System.
Flooring:Dodge-Regupol; SRS Degadur; Roppe; Expanko; Armstrong; Casa Dolce Casa;Eco-Wood; Johnsonite; Ann Sacks; IMG; LM Scofield; Revigres Porcelanato.
Carpet: Durkan Hospitality; Constantine; Prince Street; Atlas; Masland.
Ceilings: Armstrong; Chicago Metallic; Ceilings Plus.
Wallcoverings: Blumenthal; JM Lynne; Innovations; Maharam; Designtex.
UpholsteryTextiles: Pollack; Unika Vaev; Anzea; Momentum; Mayer Fabrics;Designtex; Paul Brayton; Arc-Com; HBF; Knoll; Larsen; Maharam;Sunbrella.
Surfacing (Walls): Daltile; Sherwin Williams;Benjamin Moore; Duroplex; Ann Sacks; Crossville; Oceanside Tile;Skyline Glass; Knoll Imago; Joel Berman Glass; Marlite.
Surfacing (Millwork): Nevamar; Pionite; Formica; Wilsonart; Avonite; Veneer Technologies Ltd.; Corian.
Acoustics/Sound Masking: Acoustical wall panels covered with Carnegie Xorel.
Restrooms Fixtures: Hadrian; Capitol Partitions.
Building Management System/Services: Trane.
Smart Cards: Lenel Systems International.
HVAC Equipment: Trane (chillers and air handlers); Armstrong (hot water and chilled water pumps); Aurora (fire pump).
IT Infrastructure: CISCO Systems.
Roofing System: Carlisle.
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