Award Winner - July/August 2003
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Bringing Baseball Home

Haymarket Park
Lincoln, Neb.

Haymarket Park in Lincoln, Neb., was built to be a double-header of sorts.

The stadium complex is home to both the minor-league Lincoln Saltdogs during the summer and the University of Nebraska's Division I-A men's baseball team and women's softball team during the spring.

"The Saltdogs' owner, Jim Abel, wanted to bring baseball back to Lincoln and knew the university was looking for a new field as well," says Ryan Lockhart, director of stadium operations. "It's proven to be a great ballpark for both the university and the Saltdogs. For the Huskers, it helps with recruitment because the kids want to play here."


The stadium is actually the first project in the state to include two public sources and one private source of funding. The City of Lincoln, which owns the land and buildings, contributed $13 million to the project, while the university and Lincoln Pro Baseball contributed $10.7 million and $10 million, respectively. Both are co-leasees and have a 35-year prepaid lease, pay no property tax and no insurance, are jointly responsible for maintenance, and share revenue for their specific events.

So far the partnership seems to be a home run.

"Everybody walks in to the stadium and goes, 'Whoa, that's great,'" Lockhart says. "I like the fact that whether you're on the berm in a $4 seat or in a $10 seat behind the plate, you're up close to the action. You're the same distance. There's not a bad seat in the whole stadium. It's not too big and it's not to small."

Between the stadium seats, the grassy berm seating, the Sky Suites and upper-level seats, Haymarket can handle crowds up to 8,500.

"It seems like the fans love coming out," Lockhart says.

In fact, in their first two seasons, the Saltdogs averaged 5,000 fans per game, ranking them attendance-wise in the top 100 for minor-league teams.

Haymarket's "fan friendly" design includes an open and elevated concourse that lets patrons see the field from almost anywhere, even if they are waiting in line for tickets or concessions. While the field itself is below ground level, fans enter the gate at the concourse level. Because there are no stairs or ramps to access the grandstands, the facility can easily accommodate those in wheelchairs or those who have difficulty walking.

Standing free of the lower-level buildings, the second level allows breezes to pass through the stands to keep fans cool and comfortable.

There's also a playground to let young fans take a break and burn off some energy.

"The kids love it, and the parents love it," Lockhart says. "I think it adds a lot to the stadium."

Haymarket also added to its roster of amenities an underground sub-air turf system, a relatively new technology widely used in Europe. The forced-air system heats and cools the field as needed, keeping the natural blue grass maintainable even in Nebraska's below-freezing winter temperatures.

It's a feature that proved extremely handy when seven inches of snow fell the day before the university's season opener, which turned out to be the team's best season opener ever in terms of weather and attendance.

After all, it's also the home of the Saltdogs, not the Snow Dogs.

"Very competitive with some of the more successful urban minor-league ballparks and well above average for a collegiate stadium. Concourse, skyboxes, retail areas and signage are all well presented and thematically consistent. Very thoughtfully put together and solid all around. Strong integration of business considerations, urban design and technology. Great!"

—Paul Brailsford

"Innovative public and private partnership, also sensitivity to history and sightlines of campus. Nice grading to allow views. Clean detailing and strong appeal."

—Philip Neeley

Submitted by: DLR Group SPORTS

Size: 68,324 square feet, which is interior space only and does not include the seating areas (52,000 square feet), the berm seating (19,000 square feet) or the concourse area (20,500 square feet)

Project cost: $29.5 million (not including land)

Quick tour:

  • 4,500-seat baseball stadium
  • 16 Sky Suites, each providing seating for 20 people
  • 175 Club level seats with access to the Diamond View lounge, which is a multipurpose facility with capacity for 340 people
  • Grass berm seats an additional 4,000.
  • Buck Beltzer Playground Area
  • Clubhouses with wood lockers, leather furniture and TV for players
  • Baseball offices for both the university's baseball program and the Saltdogs
  • Adjacent 1,200-seat softball stadium with university's softball program offices and clubhouses
  • Outdoor training facility for both baseball and softball
  • $4.5 million pedestrian bridge that leads to the historic Haymarket area in downtown Lincoln

Associated Firms

Carpet and tile: Interface Flooring

Rubber flooring: ECO Surfaces

Lighting: Musco Sports Lighting

Locker rooms: Lyon Workspace Products

Signs: Signco

Scoreboards: Daktronics Inc.

Bleachers/seating: American Seating

Wall mats: Promats, Inc.

Netting: C&H Baseball and Metals

Playground: Ely Churchich

Food service: Levy Restaurants and Pegler Sysco

Field heating system: Millennium Sports Technologies

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