Robbie Alomar once lived in a ballpark, and now maybe you can too. The Lansing Lugnuts, the Toronto Blue Jays' single-A affiliate in the Midwest League, are looking to complete a massive upgrade to their stadium, which could include the construction of as many as 100 residential units just beyond the outfield wall. This arrangement reminds me somewhat of Northwest Delta Dental Stadium where the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats play. That ballpark has a Hilton Garden Inn just beyond left field.
The construction will include a rebuild of the dugouts, locker rooms, and the scoreboard in addition to other face lifts for Cooley Law School Stadium in downtown Lansing, Michigan.
The price tag of the project rings in at just $22 million, less than what the Seattle Mariners will pay Robinson Cano this upcoming season, and is slated to be completed by the 2016 season. The Lugnuts' owner will pay for 50% of the cost, and the City of Lansing will carry the other half, pending a council vote. A private developer will be invited to build the residential complex itself.
I made a visit to the ballpark last summer and found it to be a really nice, small place to watch baseball. Right now there is a grassy berm behind the left field stands where the apartment building will stand, as well as a little carnival area for kids to play in. The ballpark, which opened in 1996, does show its age in a few areas, such as the concession stands and the locker rooms. However, their concessions--and beer selection--are top notch and are available at a great price. Even before these renovations, you should make your way down there some time this season. It's right downtown and really easily accessible. Unless you are allergic, you should also make a point to pick up some freshly roasted nuts at The Peanut Shop downtown.
Don't worry about broken windows or curtains in the bedroom, apparently the units will be built with ball-proof two-way glass. I still would consider taping up the windows if Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion comes by for a rehab stint.
The Blue Jays' player development contract (PDC) with the Lansing Lugnuts run through this upcoming season. We can only hope that the club decides to extend the contract for another two or four years so Jays fans can watch their prospects in the renovated stadium.
Renderings courtesy of the Lansing Lugnuts, used with permission.