Loeb Stadium in Lafayette Set for Rebuild
Contractors looking for a unique opportunityduring the current construction boom shouldbe aware of an upcoming project in Lafayette, where bids will be accepted in April for the $16 million rebuilding of the City’s iconic Loeb Stadium.
Kettelhut Construction is the construction manager and their people have given considerable thought into what can be done to help insure that companies find the project an attractive bidding opportunity.
“Right now, the industry is strong and as a result many contractors are not bidding as much as they would otherwise,” said Alex Gonzalez, executive vice president at Kettelhut. “We are aware of that, we understand that, and we have structured everything about this project with an eye toward making certain the project is win-win for contractors and the City of Lafayette.
“This is a project that will be well planned, well coordinated and Kettelhut prides itself in being able to pull that off effectively. We think – actually we know – that those kinds of projects are fun and profitable.
“We are a relationship driven company and we want our Owners andall contractors to have success and feel good about it before, during and after. We want everyone to be successful.”
Among the incentives to bid are a few related to the timing of the project.
“For example,” said Gonzalez, “the project will bid in April and contractors will mobilize to the site in August, giving plenty of time for contractors to buy supplies and do their engineering.”
For their part, Kettelhut will insure that sequencing contractors will be “highly planned so the construction will be able to proceed more efficiently,” he added.
In addition, the project will commence toward the end of the busiest construction season (August, 2019) presenting a solid opportunity to keep work flowing throughout the winter. It is scheduled to be completed by late fall of 2020.
Gonzalez also noted that Kettelhut has been very involved in the Indiana Subcontractors Association (ISA) and they have had considerable success when working with fellow members. “We want to continue to cultivate our long standing relationships while also creating potentially new partners from contractors around the state.”
In addition, Kettelhut and the City have worked together a great deal over the decades and Gonzalez reports they are very good construction consumers. “The City of Lafayette is a great community that is run very well. They have a great reputation and in our experience have treated all parties fairly and consistently made sure that contractors are paid on time.”
The iconic nature of the project provides an additional incentive for some as Dan McCloskey who serves as the project’s senior project architect noted.
“These type of projects don’t come along every day. You will be able to drive by the stadium or attend a game and see people enjoy a building like this. It is a great feeling to see something unique and long lasting and which strengthens the community and know that you had a hand in creating it.”
Loeb Stadium is surrounded by Columbian Park, an elementary school, residential properties and local businesses. It also serves as a sort of entryway to the city itself.
Currently as you drive into the city, viewers are “treated” to a view of the backfield fence, a sight that will be enhanced significantly as the design of the new stadium essentially turns the ballpark around 180 degrees so that the seating – and home plate – will be where the former backfield had been.
The stadium is in a residential area that presented a challenge to the designers to create a structure that will serve its various purposes while fitting into a residential setting.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski thinks the design works.
“For decades, Loeb Stadium has been an iconic piece of Columbian Park and the City of Lafayette's history. As we seek ways to continue and enhance tradition, we are excited by the amenities this multi-use facility will bring to our community.
“This important piece of our recreation plan will act as an economic development engine for the retention and attraction of business as well as a critical piece of our quality of life initiatives.
“The stunning design of Loeb Stadium will act as an anchor for the Five Points redevelopment plan and integrate seamlessly into the Columbian Park neighborhood. We look forward to offering this wonderful venue for the creation of new generations of family memories.”
It was initially built in 1940 and has been used as primarily a baseball stadium. It was the home of the Ohio Valley Redcoats and later the Lafayette Leopards. Today it is home field for the Lafayette Aviators and Lafayette Jefferson High School.
The Aviator’s season ends in August and construction begins after their last home game in 2019. Both teams’ home field will be in an alternative location for the 2020 season.
According to McCloskey the current stadium was cast in place and was “completely falling apart.”
It was not feasible to rehabilitate it and needed to be replaced.
The decision to flip the orientation of the park was made not only for curb appeal.
“The preferred orientation of baseball is northeast looking at it as if you are the catcher and turning the park around accomplishes the orientation,” said McCloskey.
The reason for the eastward bias is pretty simple; baseball is a game that is predominantly played in the afternoon/early evening. And, given that the sun moves across the sky in a westward direction, the sun is in the western part of the sky during that part of the day. If teams built fields that were oriented towards the west, batters would effectively be looking into the sun and find it excessively hard to pick out the ball.
In so far as being able to see the ball clearly is integral to being able to hit the ball, and being able to hit the ball is integral to the game actually being worthwhile, major league rules state that it is "desirable" that fields are oriented in an eastern/northeastern direction.
In addition to the effect on the hitter's eyesight, there is another, somewhat less integral benefit: the dominant stadium design is one in which most spectators look in a non-western direction, meaning that the view of the game isn't made uncomfortable having to compete with the extreme brightness of the sun.
The new park will add plenty of new amenities for the fans, including the ability to host sporting events other than baseball such as soccer.
There will be an increased restroom count to meet current code requirements. Concessions will be enlarged and balanced down both sides of the concourse.
It will provide office space for the Aviators while bringing merchandising and ticketing to the street level.
Locker room facilities will be dramatically improved.
Fans will enjoy WIFI access throughout the stadium, a new video scoreboard with high definition video cameras located throughout the stadium.
Perhaps the biggest improvement lays in the decision to lower the playing field seven feet so that no matter where a fan sits, they have a clear and unfettered sight of the entire field of play.
Lowering the field necessitated improvements that are already underway. Main and Wallace streets have been narrowed to accommodate the new front of the stadium. New storm and sanitary sewers are being put in place that will have the additional benefit of helping to prevent flooding in the area.
The biggest difference between the new and old design is loweringthe field’s playing surface. Doing so maintains a street level concourse and which allows for essentially another level of seating for the fans without adding to the height stadium thus allowing it to better fit into a residential area.
Another design element that allows the stadium to fit more comfortably in a residential area is the use of traditional brick masonry as opposed, for example, to using glass and steel that would have rendered a more industrial look.