Award Winner - May/June 2004
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Silver Cross Field
Joliet, Ill.


S u b m i t t e d    b y:

sink combs dethlefs in denver

8.35 acres, including 110,819-square-foot building area and 131,100-square-foot playing field

Project cost:
$27 million ballpark owned by the City of Joliet. A group of local investors own the JackHammers, while Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet acquired the ballpark's naming rights.

Quick tour:

  • High-performance sand-based field with underground drainage
  • 4,581 fixed seats in the seating bowl
  • 12 14x18 and two 14x30 party suites
  • Overall seating capacity of 6,222, including grassy berm
  • Team store and Hall Of Fame
  • Team offices
  • Large hot-tub party deck overlooking right field
  • Walk-around outfield fence (for 360-degree viewing of field)

Just as baseball involves plenty of strategy and team effort, so does the planning of a state-of-the-art stadium—especially in the heart of a historic downtown.

Take Silver Cross Field in Joliet, Ill., an urban infill project, which is home to a Northern League expansion franchise, the aptly named Joliet JackHammers, fitting for this once heavily blue-color town.

"It was really part of a downtown revitalization for Joliet; it's reintroduced Joliet into the area," says Steve Malliet, executive vice president and general manager of the JackHammers. "It fits so well with the downtown. When you build a downtown stadium, you're always leery of fitting in with the architecture."

About 45 miles southwest of Chicago, Joliet is now bustling with new shops, restaurants, condos, a river walk and even a waterpark, thanks in part to the revenue from two nearby casinos.

"It's a very traditional Midwestern, slightly industrial town, and they've been undergoing a renaissance," says Don Dethlefs, president of Sink Combs Dethlefs in Denver. "It's a really good urban redevelopment project. For what they spent, we're proud of the building they got."

And what a structure it is, complete with seating bowl, concourse and private suites, all wrapped around the minor-league ball field.

"The image of the building is traditional Midwestern style and traditional ballpark style," Dethlefs says. "Lots of red brick."

Which is very complementary to Joliet's architecture, steel bridges and adjacent elevated train tracks.

"The steel work gives it that traditional, old-time appeal; the brick and the steel really help it fit into the downtown area," Malliet says. "It's all brand-new, but it fits in the downtown like its been here 100 years."

A century maybe, except for all the stadium upgrades.

"It has everything a major-league ballpark would have, but on a smaller scale," Malliet says. Dethlefs agrees: "It's a minor-league stadium, so we tried to have a lot of features without getting carried away."

Of course, it still has a hot-tub party area as well 14 luxury suites. Other design elements add some thoughtful but less obvious touches.

"The concourse is open and perpendicular to the field, so if you're standing in line for concessions, you can look out onto the field," Dethlefs says. Likewise, it's a pleasant view of the expansive field from the stands.

"The outfield is really open so it looks more like a park," Dethlefs says. "We tried to create human-scale, with urban on two sides and creating a park setting and scale for the outfield."

While the stadium is also shared for local college and high-school games and tournaments, JackHammer games remain the main event.

"Our attendance keeps rising," Malliet says, with an estimated 5,000 fans per game for the upcoming season. "It's a real cornerstone for growth. We're here for the entire region. We've seen a lot of people from throughout Chicagoland because it's such a unique experience, and the ballpark is such a jewel."

A diamond, at least.

J u d g e s '   N o t e s

"Very nice 'retro' ballpark look. Captures many of the details of steel construction on bridges and the old ballparks. Great attention was paid to not obstructing any views."

cHristell leonard

"Very aggressive design that reflects on the community's past heritage with an eye on the future. A renewed sense of vitality to the downtown district. Takes a page right out of major-league baseball by the incorporation of amenities, concourse, retail areas, skyboxes and signage. This project truly hits a home run. A great integration of public spaces and private partnerships for prosperous business considerations."

tom poulos

"The combination of brick glass and steel truss frames make for a great curb appeal."

kenneth ward

A s s o c i a t e d    F i r m s

general contractor

Walsh Construction

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