South Bend’s Coveleski Stadium will become more of a public park this year, thanks to a $7 million renovation project..
“Everything that we’re thinking of, is how do we really open up to be the city park we were meant to be,” said Silver Hawks Vice President and General Manager Lynn Kachmarik.
For instance, up until now, Coveleski Stadium has been the only city park where the public policy was “keep off the grass.”
That will all change this season with the installation of artificial turf.
The turf that crews were installing on the infield today is the same stuff you might soon feel between your toes.
“We’re going to be able to open up the outfield, invite families down (on) the field, we’re going to keep four of our players on the field and we’re going to talk about, come over on Sundays and have a catch prior to the game with a professional baseball player or dad, or mom, or grandpa,” said Kachmarik.
While artificial turf may offend some baseball purists, it promises to make the field a lot more practical, durable, and accessible to the public.
For instance, when the Silver Hawks are on the road, youth baseball teams will play eight weekend tournaments at the Cove this year. That’s something the stadium hasn’t allowed in the past for fear that the field would be damaged.
This year, the Cove will also experiment with a family camp out night: allowing families to pitch a tent and stay overnight on the field.
The Cove has also been chosen as the new launch site for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
“We knew that this was a city park and we can’t just be a professional baseball stadium, we need to be something more to the community,” said Kachmarik.
The new and improved Coveleski Stadium will also have a new scoreboard with a new video screen that is said to be about nine times larger than the old one.
The screen is so big that five new employees have been hired to run it. “We are getting a new video scoreboard and we’re going to have four cameras that are going around the stadium we’ll be able to show kids live time up you know full size up on the video board, we’ll be able to show instant replay,” Kachmarik said. “It’s a new game in town, it’s a new facility.”
The old tradition of Dollar Mondays will be eliminated, and replaced with Family Feast Night with deep discounts on select food items.
Ticket prices will remain unchanged.
The price tag of the Coveleski Improvement project is $7 million. About $3 million worth of proposed work was eliminated when members of the South Bend Common Council rejected the idea of using option income tax monies to offset cost.
According to Kachmarik, $1.6 million plans to build a new commissary for food preparation were nixed, along with plans to renovate the synagogue off William Street to serve as a team souvenir store. Officials also eliminated the construction of an indoor batting cage.
Crews have gone ahead with renovation work on the Upper Deck and the luxury suites.
A project to move the public entrance to the stadium beyond the outfield has begun, but won’t be completed by opening day.