jeff9Fayetteville City Council has taken the first of many steps to build a multi-million-dollar minor league baseball stadium in downtown Fayetteville. It’ll take a year-and-a-half, and it will be much more than a ballpark. The venue is officially described as a multi-use outdoor sports stadium/entertainment facility designed for baseball, soccer and perhaps even football, as well as outdoor concerts and festivals. Its presence behind the former Prince Charles Hotel off Hay Street is expected to be a catalyst for millions of dollars of economic development projects. Renovation of the old hotel will include 60 apartments, a luxury penthouse, a ground floor restaurant and retail spaces.

City Council agreed to hire a pair of architectural firms. One of them is a well-known local group, Slf+a. The other is Populous, which has designed athletic stadiums, arenas and convention centers around the world. In its solicitation of architects for the project, the city said it is interested in “negotiating a master development agreement that will leverage public investments in amenities and infrastructure to induce private sector investment in downtown.” Council appropriated up to $3 million for the undertaking. It sets out five core elements: the stadium itself; private re-development of the former Prince Charles Hotel into a mixed-use building, a ground level apartment and retail building; private development of a new hotel to be integrated with the venue providing public parking to be owned by the city; and a private partnership to provide public open space for a park or square on the Hay Street side of the stadium. 

In its proposal, the City of Fayetteville states that a market study concluded the project development should attract as many as 300,000 visitors per year. The budget anticipates $33 million in hard costs for venue construction. It must be constructed to facilitate diverse year-round use for purposes to be defined during the conceptual design process. 

The architectural proposal gives a hint, on paper at least, what the ballpark will look like. First and foremost, it must meet minor league baseball standards and include fixed seating, outfield berm seating and other general admission areas to comfortably accommodate approximately 4,500 fans. A limited number of luxury and club suites will include all finishes, furniture, fixtures and equipment. Concession facilities will include specialty cooking and vending areas, general commissary and point-of-sale vending locations. 

Also outlined are team facilities including locker rooms, training areas, a “green room” or secondary locker room area for other types of events as well as team store(s), merchandising, concessions and box office facilities. Press access includes facilities for print media, radio and television broadcasts as well as in-house public address and audio/visual equipment. Scoreboard and video board design including facilities for video production are to be provided.  Construction is expected to begin in July with completion anticipated by January 2019. 

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