But will it fit and what about parking?
Those are two persistent questions people are asking about the city’s plan to build a Triple-A ballpark on the City Hall and Insights Museum site.
The quick answers to both appear to be “yes.”
Downtown baseball stadiums around the country come in all shapes and sizes because, unlike a football or soccer field, there are no set requirements for the dimensions of a professional ballpark’s outfield.
Downtown stadiums can be built to fit a squarish piece of ground with six acres or so, said David Bower, a sports architect for Populous, an architectural, design and consulting firm based in Kansas City that has had a lot to do with the London Olympics.
“I’m sitting here looking at a real park over the City Hall site, and I know it does work,” said Bower, whose company was hired by the city to look at several sites. “While I say that, it is a very intimate site.”
Even though the stadium could be built to fit on the City Hall site, he said, it would be better if it were a little bigger – taking part of Santa Fe, Durango and West Missouri streets.
“Frankly, to get a 314-foot left field foul line, we have gone into Missouri Street on the north,” said Bower, who has been in on the design of 30 ballparks in his career. “We’ve actually captured that street. That has become our left field plaza.
“Other than that, we would like to be able to capture an additional lane on the west street (Durango) and an additional lane on the east street (Santa Fe) that runs north south. But neither of those are must-haves.”
There are no apartments or residences on that block of West Missouri, which runs beside the Scottish Rite Temple. But it is the only convenient way out of the neighborhood for the apartment residents of the San Francisco Historic District.
Bower said it would be a great picnic site on game days and that the street wouldn’t have to be permanently closed – just during games.
“We would keep that level and make it a plaza where it would go around the left field wall and fans could gather and look down onto the field,” Bower said. “It’s really a cool setting and, again, part of the uniqueness the ball park would have.”
Parking for 30,000
So what about parking for the planned 7,000-seat ball field? El Paso Inc. obtained an inventory of parking garages and lots that shows 8,392 spaces in Downtown, generally east and south of City Hall. But not all are in what an El Pasoan might consider convenient walking distance.
In addition, there are 1,825 metered parking spaces in central Downtown, according to Said Larbi-Cherif, head of the city’s International Bridges Department.
Those 10,217 parking spaces would accommodate more than 30,000 people using a conservative count of three people per vehicle for entertainment events.
Assistant city manager Bill Studer said estimates of passengers per vehicle for sports events range from 2.7 to 3.4 people per car.
So, with 10,217 spaces and free circulator buses picking people up and dropping them off, there is plenty of parking, he agreed.
If the city builds the new arena that’s included in the quality of life bond on the Nov. 6 election, the arena will likely come with an underground parking garage.
“Besides that, if there’s a demand for more parking, someone will provide it,” Studer said.
Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at email@example.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 122 and (915) 630-6622.