Could the Bucs and Glacier Pilots be getting a new stadium? If planned upgrades to the Chester Creek Sports Complex, proposed in a 2013 Design Concept, go through, a new pad for the two Anchorage teams could be on the horizon.
In 2006, local engineering firm USKH issued a report with Land Design North to address current issues involving the Chester Creek complex, which includes Mulcahy Stadium as well as the Sullivan Arena, Ben Boeke Arena, Anchorage Football Stadium and the Kosinksi Ball Fields. Among the concerns identified were poor traffic flow through the complex, inadequate parking, and the conditions of the ballpark which the Bucs and Pilots call home.
The current stadium is an aging facility operated by the Municipality of Anchorage, and used by the two resident ABL teams as well as American Legion Baseball. In recent years some money has been put into upgrading the facilities — most notably the recent addition of a FieldTurf infield — but continued remodeling of the old, neglected infrastructure presents challenges which, when combined with the opportunities to improve parking and traffic flow, make a whole new stadium attractive.
At first glance at the USKH design concept, it’s apparent that the new stadium would be generally configured in the same manner, with a southwest view from the plate. However, it would be shifted westward to the area currently occupied by two of the Kosinksi fields and open up room for a larger, common parking area in a central location between all of the affected facilities. The total footprint of the stadium would increase and additional capacity made available, including down the lines and in the outfield with the potential to add the popular open lawn areas seen in newer pro parks.
Sacrificing the northern Kosinski fields has the blessing of Legion Baseball, who have concentrated their upgrades on the southern fields in anticipation of this move. It would be advantageous to the ABL and its fans in that play during the summer construction season could continue at the current stadium while work on the new facility is underway.
I spoke to Anchorage Bucs General Manager Shawn Maltby by phone to receive more info on the plans and to get a feel for where the Bucs stand. “We’re making sure that this is the park of the future,” Maltby said, adding that the quality of the new facility would be on par with newer minor league parks. He then detailed the many refinements that have been made to the design as his team has collaborated with the Glacier Pilots, American Legion Baseball, and other stakeholders. The new park — which would have seats for approximately 1,000 in addition to the open common areas — would have a full turf playing surface. It would feature amenities such as luxury boxes, a playground inside the stadium, and retail space including new team stores for both the Pilots and Bucs immediately inside the entrance to the park. The new stadium would more literally be the home of the two teams, as office space would be available on-site.
Maltby also stressed that the new stadium would be one component of the larger project, and would interface with the Chester Creek complex as a whole, allowing its facilities to be used for events such as the Fur Rondy festivities and the Women’s Run. The whole project is still tentative, with tweaks still being made, but I was told that if all goes well they might break ground on the project as early as summer 2014