A fresh new look at Coca Cola Field
by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 4:49 pm, November 11, 2014
In late summer, the Buffalo Bisons announced the first step in what will eventually be a remake of Coca Cola Field would be implemented during this offseason. Up first, the replacement of some of the seats in the stadium’s seating bowl, which have been in place since the facility opened in 1988. Today the team opened up the ballpark for the first sneak peek at the new look seating bowl.
Gone are all the old red seats in the area known as the “special reserved” section on the 100 level, representing about 25% of the seating capacity in the stadium, and they have been replaced by brand new kelly green seats which are wider and roomier than the old seating. The concrete base has been sealed and repainted, giving this area of the ballpark a fresh new look. The cost of this project, approximately $750,000, was funded via a capital improvements allocation from the stadium’s owner, the City of Buffalo.
The plan is to eventually replace all fixed seats in the ballpark, which just by doing the math based on the costs of this initial phase, should run somewhere in the $2.5-million range. But there are bigger plans in the works. “We’re working with our architects, Populous, to develop a new master plan to transform this ballpark over the next few years,” says Bisons Public Relations Director Brad Bisbing. “Our objective won’t be to catch up with what has been done in other ballparks, but to be the trend setter in terms of design, features and amenities. What that will eventually be will be fun to watch unfold.”
The stadium will be starting its 28th year of operation in just 149 days when the Buffalo Bisons open the 2015 season of baseball. The team has made its own private contribution to enhancements at the ballpark in recent years, including new player training facilities and batting cages, a field drainage system, upgraded lighting and sound systems, and most notably for the fans, a spectacular new high definition scoreboard, one of the finest in all of minor league baseball.
Bisbing was unable to come up with a firm number for what will be the new stadium capacity, which has been 18,025 in recent years. “We’re still tweaking some other areas of the ballpark, but we removed 3700 of the old seats and replaced them with 3300 new ones, so the new number will fall somewhere in the mid 17,000 range.”
Mayor Byron Brown just released his 2015 capital improvements budget for the city, and in that budget $1-million has been allocated for the stadium. How that money is spent remains to be determined. But one thing is for certain – Coca Cola Field will be taking a new and different shape in coming years, adding to the momentum and energy happening downtown and at Canalside. Stay tuned.