Baseball fans may be said to “live in the ballpark” during game season, but in the near future, a few hundred people in Lansing, Michigan will quite literally live at the ballpark. Work is already proceeding on a new stadium in downtown Lansing for minor league team the Lansing Lugnuts. The Cooley Law School Stadium, which is expected to be finished by next spring, will include an $11 million housing project called The Outfield. The one- and two-bedroom residences – about 84 of them -- are to be constructed over a planned new fan concourse.
The apartments are being added to the field as it undergoes a much-needed $13.5 million renovation. In addition to the fan concourse and residences, the refurbished stadium will feature a covered picnic area, a craft beer bar and a year-round banquet space to accommodate up to 150 guests that can be rented. Other work on the stadium, which is being paid for with city-issued bonds, includes updated restrooms, team locker rooms, batting cages, fan seats, suites, picnic areas and playground equipment, concessions areas, stadium lighting, scoreboard, digital ribbon boards wrapping the suite deck, audio systems and signs. Workers have already done some painting in preparation for this season’s games.
Developers say they hope to have the new residences framed and the exteriors completed by the fall, which will allow builders to work on the interiors of the apartments next winter.
"We didn't know how far along the city would be at this point," Lansing developer Pat Gillespie told the Lansing State Journal. "They're at a point where we're able to get rolling and we're able to do it without impacting baseball too much.
Gillespie’s company has promised that work will not interfere with this season’s games, and that crews will work during the day when the Lugnuts have a home game.
The $11 million project is financed in part with a $2.5 million equity investment by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, according to the Lansing State Journal. In return, the State of Michigan will become part owner of Outfield Partners LLC, the entity created to build the apartments. Outfield Partners is made up of Gillespie's company and Lugnuts owner Take Me Out to the Ballgame LLC.
The Cooley Law School Stadium, which was built in 1996, is the home of the Lugnuts, but it also plays host to The Michigan State Spartans college baseball team for some select home games.