By Jerry Lynott firstname.lastname@example.orgBusiness Writer MOOSIC – The $40 million redesign of PNC Field, where the /Wilkes-Barre Yankees baseball team play, has at least one architect interested.
The 21-year-old stadium is set to undergo a major makeover as part of a $14.6 million deal to sell the baseball franchise and keep the team in Northeastern Pennsylvania for at least 30 more years. Jonathan O’Neil Cole, one of the principal owners of Pendulum Studio, said he is familiar with the stadium having been asked to do work on it while with another firm. There has been speculation for years that the stadium was in need of improvements, he said. “That being the case, the project has been on our radar.” Pendulum Studio of Kansas City, Mo., was among a handful of firms mentioned in a story that appeared online Tuesday in Ballpark Digest about a competition to redo the stadium. The others were DLR Group, 360 Architecture and Ewing Cole, whose conceptual drawings of the remade ballpark were shown at a public meeting Monday announcing the planned sale of the franchise. Ewing Cole and 360 Architecture did not respond to requests for comments. Andy Ernsting of DLR said he was unable Thursday to contact the people in the firm who would know about the project. However, Jonathan Cole said Pendulum was not asked to participate in a competition, adding, “We would have loved the opportunity to put our thoughts on paper.” There may be another opportunity for Cole and Pendulum Studio after the sale of the franchise is completed. He said he “is still interested in the project.” Proceeds of the sale of the franchise will pay for part of the construction and the Lackawanna County Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority will have to come up with approximately $17 million in order to receive $25 million from the state. It cost $25 million to build the stadium that opened in 1989 as the home field of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, the Triple-A farm team of the Philadelphia Phillies. Lackawanna County commissioners and the authority, which agreed to sell the franchise to SWB Yankees LLC, said no decisions have been made on the design and architect. County spokeswoman Lynne Shedlock did not specifically answer a question on whether there was a competition for designs. She said, “We have not retained an architect for the actual project itself.” SWB Yankees, a joint venture between Yankees Global Enterprises LLC and Mandalay Baseball Properties LLC, will have some input on the stadium design, said Larry Freedman, executive vice president with Mandalay. Freedman said Mandalay did not ask architectural firms to submit conceptual designs because it does not own the stadium. “It would not be our place to do that,” he said. Ewing Cole, with offices in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Irvine, Calif., has been retained as part of the baseball negotiation team, added Shedlock. The firm was a designer of Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. The firm did three facility assessments, the latest in 2009, that characterized the ballpark in relatively good condition for its age, but in need of an estimated $13.2 million in improvements and repairs. A separate assessment was done on the playing surface last year. The artificial turf was replaced with grass for the inaugural 2007 season of the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. But during the 2009 season drainage problems caused the cancellation of games and forced the team to play several home games at other ballparks while the field was repaired. Jonathan Cole was unsure why Pendulum Studio was included in the Ballpark Digest story, but assumed it was because the firm is among the few sports architects that specialize in minor league baseball stadium design. Among its projects are The Corn Crib in Normal, Ill., home of the Cornbelters in the Frontier League, and a new stadium for the Green Bay Bullfrogs of Green Bay, Wis., which play in the Northwoods League. The designs for those facilities put fans close to the field and do not have upper decks, similar to what has been proposed for PNC Field.
Jerry Lynott, a Times Leader staff writer, can be contacted at 570 829-7237.