January 30, 2013 in City

Beefing up the ballpark

Second upgrade since 1958 bringing Avista Stadium ‘up to today’s standards’
By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Otto Klein, senior vice president of Spokane Indians Baseball, points out the features of the new concession stand under construction at Avista Stadium on Monday. The update will expand the concession space, add more ticket windows and add a year-round merchandise store.
(Full-size photo)

The secret floor safe unearthed during upgrades to the Spokane Indians’ administration building may not reveal Tommy Lasorda’s private pasta stash or any hidden treasures.

But the Indians know they’ve already hit the jackpot without hiring Geraldo Rivera to reveal the contents of their mystery vault.

The safe remains locked for now as a link between the Indians’ storied past and hopes for the future, which are receiving a considerable upgrade this year thanks to a $2.8 million appropriation from Spokane County.

“We are keeping (the safe) in the floor and not covering it up as a reminder of the history of the ballpark,” Indians Senior Vice President Otto Klein said.

The Indians’ county-owned Avista Stadium, built in 1958 and originally called Fairgrounds Recreational Park, will have a sparkling new look when the Northwest League season begins in mid-June.

The stadium, built in 90 days, needed a facelift after a half-century of memorable summers, including manager Lasorda’s 1970 outfit, named by Baseball America as the best minor league team in the second half of the 20th century.

The first upgrade came before the 2008 season, a $4 million state grant for repairing the stadium’s concrete. That took care of the stadium itself, but the Indians’ wish list included a new main concession building, the revamped administration building, a new team store, repaving the outer concourse, improved lighting, and updating the men’s restroom and home clubhouse.

County commissioners unanimously approved $2.8 million for the current project in July 2010 as part of an agreement with Brett Sports, owner of the Indians since 1985, on an extended 10-year lease.

The total project construction cost is $2.3 million, with $500,000 going to other fees, Spokane County Design and Construction Manager Don Coon said.

ALSC Architects and Kilgore Construction are in charge of the project.

“Everything will be up to today’s standards as opposed to 1958 standards,” Klein said. “In 1958, it was a summer-use-only facility, and now business has changed and it’s a 365-days-a-year operation.”

The highlight for fans should be the new concessions building, which will have more “points of sale” for faster service, a greater variety of food and payment options other than cash. Unlike previous seasons, fans will be able to purchase any item from one vendor rather than working their way through multiple lines.

The new walk-in team store, connected to the administrative building, will be open year-round and replaces a trailer shack. Klein expects double the merchandise options from past years.

The administration building will have larger ticket offices and extra office space.

“In the future I think the new offices will allow us to grow the business, where we’ll add more full-time and part-time people and create more jobs,” Klein said.

During construction, the Indians clubhouse is serving as the administration building. When the Indians of 2012 left in September, the clubhouse was cleaned, painted, and given new lighting and carpeting.

The men’s restrooms on the first- and third-base sides are receiving new flooring, partitions and paint.

The old concession area near the front gate remains a work in progress. Klein said the Indians hope to turn it into a multipurpose area with shade.

“(The Indians’) contribution to the current project, and what we need to put into it, is going to be about $1 million,” Klein said. “That’s all the equipment and furniture and all that other stuff.”

The county and the Indians aren’t finished. Coon said the two sides plan to share the cost, “probably less than $1 million,” in repaving the facility’s west parking lot.

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