Stadium on track for debut
BY P.J. LASSEK World Staff Writer
Sunday, February 21, 2010
8/15/10 at 7:59 AM
ONEOK Field View related documents including the lease and read all of the previous stories. Watch a time lapse of the construction and get an aerial view of the field.
Despite one of the harshest winters for construction, the $39.2 million downtown baseball stadium project is on time and within budget.
"We're extremely excited about approaching the goal line," Tulsa Stadium Trust Chairman Stan Lybarger said last week.
ONEOK Field, nestled in the historic Greenwood District, is the new home of the city's Double A baseball team, the Tulsa Drillers.
The stadium is bounded by Interstate 244, Elgin Avenue, Archer Street and the back side of the businesses along Greenwood Avenue.
This week the Tulsa County Health Department will conclude its concession inspections; the city will issue an occupancy permit; and by the week's end, Drillers owner Chuck Lamson will move his administrative staff, groundskeepers and concessionaires into the offices there.
"I really feel good about how things have turned out with the ballpark," Lamson said.
While Manhattan Construction Co. is winding up the finishing touches on the stadium, Lamson said the Drillers have plenty of work to do between now and the opening home game on April 8.
"Although I really haven't taken the time to step back to enjoy everything, occasionally I have been walking through the ballpark and thought to myself, 'Man, this is really happening,' " he said.
Lamson said the new ballpark is something he believes "will secure the future of professional baseball in Tulsa for the next 30 to 50 years with a great new facility and great setting."
Lybarger said the project has exceeded his expectations.
"I didn't know what to expect, but I think that everyone that has looked at it so far believes it will be one of the better minor-league ballparks in the country and highly competitive with the best that are out there," he said.
Lybarger said he got a night view of the city's skyline from the stadium, "and well, it's pretty spectacular."
Last week, the digital scoreboard and a ribbon board were lit, said Bob Jack, construction manager for Manhattan Construction.
Unlike at the old stadium, there will be no sponsorship signs framing the scoreboard, officials said. Instead, promotions and sponsorship logos will rotate on the digital scoreboard screen.
There will, however, be a sponsorship sign on the back of the scoreboard, but that will be visible only from outside the stadium.
The Drillers will have some sponsorship signs along portions of the outfield wall.
Jack said Manhattan will have accomplished construction of a top-rated ballpark in a span of about 14 months when the normal cycle takes 22 to 24 months from design to opening.
"We did it despite the multitude of weather issues we had to deal with, including 24 inches of snow on the stadium ground," he said.
"We made a commitment that by the end of February the Drillers could move in, and they will," Jack said.
Manhattan began last week paving Elgin Avenue and this week will begin installing the streetscaping items.
"There is no doubt all of the details will be complete by April," he said.
Lybarger said it's "a blur how quickly this project got done."
Next phase: development
Building a downtown ballpark was never just about baseball.
From the beginning, the project had a larger mission — stimulating redevelopment in the downtown entertainment districts.
The plan is to stimulate the development around the stadium "to help ensure the environment for the stadium is proper," Lybarger said.
"Clearly there is a big private-sector component in the area with just natural development momentum, but the idea was that the trust would acquire and develop a few projects and then see how the private sector proceeded," he said.
Last Friday, the trust voted to activate its development committee to get started.
While the baseball stadium itself cost $39.2 million, the overall downtown project has a price tag of $60 million, which includes the stadium cost and acquisition of property surrounding the stadium for residential and commercial redevelopment.
The trust has three properties near the ballpark it is ready to acquire from the George Kaiser Family Foundation for the purchase price and any out-of-pocket costs.
The foundation obtained the properties while prices were lower to hold for the trust with the intent to enhance development in the area.
The properties and costs are the Gates Building for $861,624; the Fleener Tire Building for $556,674; and the Oklahoma Workforce Building for $1,246,404.
Lybarger said the trust does not have the ability to redevelop everything.
"But we do have the ability to set the tone and create a jump-start for that area right around the stadium," he said.
"Aside from our efforts, the public is going to see an explosion of development in that side of downtown from the private sector."
The only public funds included in the $60 million total cost come from the portion of the 30-year downtown property assessment fee collected on municipal, county and state properties located within the Inner Dispersal Loop.
The $60 million is made up of half in private donations, nearly half in assessment fees and the remainder from the Drillers' lease.
THE NEW DRILLERS BALLPARK
Ballpark project total cost:
Stadium: $39.2 million
and other costs: $20.8 million
Private donors: $30 million
Assessment district: $25
Drillers lease: $5 million
Tulsa Stadium Improvement
District No. 1
Applies to: Commercial
property within the Inner
Exempted: residential owner-
occupied with homestead
exemption, churches, federal
Rate: 6½ cents per square
foot of both land and building
— 4 cents will fund stadium
and 2½ cents will fund downtown
Payment: Annual fee for 30
years that will be adjusted
each year based on inflation
6,200 fixed seats
23 luxury suites
Grassy picnic area seating
Recessed baseball diamond
Two party decks
Full view of downtown skyline
along third-base line
P.J. Lassek 581-8382
The new scoreboard at ONEOK Field is seen Friday. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Work continued Thursday on ONEOK Field in Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
ONEOK Field offers baseball fans a panoramic view of Tulsa's downtown skyline. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World