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CannonDesign create baseball 'stadium in the park' for Virginia Tech

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location: Barkingside, Essex, United Kingdom
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My favourite aspect of the project is the ability to watch a game from many different settings all in one venue
– Matthew Dates, vice president at CannonDesign

North American sports and arena specialists CannonDesign have designed a new baseball park for Virginia Tech University, with natural grass terraces utilised to create the feeling of being in “a stadium in the park.”

The press box and permanent stands of the university's former ground have been removed to make space for a new and larger seating area, a three-tier hospitality deck, four private suites and a picnic area close to the field.

The venue, called English Field at Union Park, has a capacity of 1,252, which can be expanded to over 3,000 with VIP seating and the grass terraces. To celebrate Virginia Tech and its legacy of baseball success, university symbols feature throughout the design and there has been a prominent use of Hokie stone – a grey dolomite–limestone rock found in western Virginia.

In a design statement, the architects said their aim with the project was “to create remarkable experiences for athletes and allows fans to experience the game their way – relaxing in the sun, cheering close to the field, casually socialising with friends, or joining concerts and community or campus events.”

Matthew Dates, vice president at CannonDesign, said: “The ballpark is located on the side of a hill which presented challenges during construction. However, it also gave us a great opportunity to design for entrance at the top of the seating bowl. We used sloping walks to access every piece of the stadium and limited stairs - the universal accessibility in the stadium is one of its greatest achievements.

“My favourite aspect of the project is the ability to watch a game from many different settings all in one venue. You can sit in a traditional seat near the concourse, or get right up close to home plate in the lower bowl. You can sit on the grass terraces and relax or grab a seat in the VIP terraces that offer a major-league stadium feel. All these ways to enjoy the stadium and the baseball really differentiate the ballpark.”

Working with construction firm Whiting-Turner, CannonDesign have also renovated 4,000sq ft (371sq m) of space at the university’s existing Weaver Baseball Center, adding a new team clubhouse including a locker room, player lounge, team room for video review, laundry facilities and coaches’ room.

Together, the two venues are key facilities for Virginia Tech’s long-term athletics programme.

CannonDesign are known for their sports buildings, and recently completed work on a hub for recreational sports, wellness and civic engagement in St Louis, a transformable ice hockey arena in Laval, Quebec and an advanced college basketball facility in Baltimore.

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North American sports and arena specialists CannonDesign have designed a new baseball park for Virginia Tech University, with natural grass terraces utilised to create the feeling of being in “a stadium in the park.”
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