Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, Michigan, has recently opened to greater downtown Utica residents as the first independent professional ballpark in the metropolitan Detroit area. Built on a former landfill site, the new ballpark is designed by Pendulum with The S/L/A/M Collaborative providing structural engineering and Frank Rewold &Son Inc. as the ballpark’s general contractor.
As a model of innovation in sports architecture, the design maximized a compact footprint with a focus on premium and semi-premium amenities that encourage sustainability. The $15 Million ballpark features new and innovative elements such as five dug-out suites; dug-out-level group seating including four top tables; a premium interior AAA Club lounge; 12 outdoor cabana suites; an elevated concourse comprising 2,500 fixed seats; five skyboxes; two field-level picnic decks each seating 300; a right field grass seating berm; and a left field VIP tent supporting a capacity of 200.
“The design activated traditionally dead spaces at the ends of the foul lines through the strategic placement of the bullpens, including them as part of the fan experience,” said Jonathan Cole, AIA, NCARB, NOMA, founding principal at Pendulum. “When seated in the berm or picnic areas, patrons are able to interact with the players while they provide autographs.”
Designers shaped the field to create enhanced lines of sight from the picnic areas. Behind the dugouts, the warning track angles at approximately 45 degrees providing patrons who are seated in the picnic areas a direct line of sight to home plate. The zone consists of a standing area protected by an eight-foot-tall net providing an interactive perspective for patrons. Another family-friendly amenity was the inclusion of a miniature wiffle ball field just beyond the right field fence picnic area, providing children the opportunity to play ball mirroring their on-field idols.
Cabana suites situated behind each dugout are another innovative feature providing patrons with a premium under-roof experience that protects them from the elements, yet provides an open air environment. The suites are equipped with rows comprising six low drink rail seats, six high drink rail seats, an “L”-shaped couch, fire pit, under-counter refrigerators, and storage.
Jimmy John’s Field hosted its first game on May 31st and has become home to the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL) and its three teams—Utica Unicorns, Eastside Diamond Hoppers, and Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers—for a 50-game-per-team schedule.