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One-on-one: Matthew Dates, vice president, CannonDesign

Stadia speaks to the vice president of CannonDesign about the company’s role in the recent redevelopment of Virginia Tech’s English Field at Union Park.

 


The Virginia Tech men’s baseball team held its grand opening for the new English Field at Union Park on Saturday, April 14, when they hosted the Louisville Cardinals. Designed by CannonDesign in collaboration with Whiting-Turner, the ballpark aims to bring fans closer to the home plate.

English Field at Union Park is a ballpark designed to celebrate Virginia Tech baseball’s rich history and serve as a home for its future. Everything from the Hokie Stone to embossed university symbols celebrate Virginia Tech and its legacy of baseball success. The ambitious design completely razed the former press box and the permanent stands that were at the site and now provides a new and larger seating area.

“English Field at Union Park is designed to be one of the premier college ballparks in the country long into the future,” said Matthew Dates, vice president at CannonDesign, design project manager for the company’s Virginia Tech work and an alum of the university. “It will enrich game day experiences for athletes, coaches and fans while also helping the university recruit top-tier talent and build on its legacy of success.”

Located at the entrance to the university’s athletics precinct, English Field at Union Park is designed as a ‘stadium in the park’. The 1,252-seat venue – that can hold over 3,000 with VIP seating and grass terraces – allows fans to experience the game their way – relaxing in the sun or cheering close to the field.

The ballpark’s signature grass terraces are complemented with a three-tier hospitality deck, four private suites and a picnic area close to the field. Beyond baseball, English Field at Union Park can host concerts and community or campus events.

In addition to the new construction, the design team renovated 4,000ft² of space in the existing Weaver Baseball Center for a new team clubhouse including a locker room, player lounge, team room for video review, laundry facilities and coaches’ room.

What’s your favorite aspect of the ballpark?
“The ability to watch a game from so many different settings, all in one venue, is my favorite aspect of the ballpark. You can sit in a traditional seat near the concourse, or get right up close to home plate in the lower bowl. You can sit on the grass terraces and relax or grab a seat in the VIP terraces that offer a major league stadium feel. All these ways to enjoy the stadium and the baseball really differentiate the ballpark.”

What challenges and opportunities arose during the design or construction of the ballpark?
“The ballpark is located on the side of a hill which presented challenges during construction. However, it also gave us a great opportunity to design for entrance at the top of the seating bowl. We used sloping walks to access every piece of the stadium and limited stairs – the universal accessibility in the stadium is one of its greatest achievements.”

What was the inspiration behind the grass terraces?
The terraces were the inspiration for our design, a stadium in the park. They were built by the university to accommodate the crowd for a New York Yankees exhibition a few years ago and since then have become a favorite viewing spot for fans. We knew they would be integral in our design from the beginning and returned to them several times to ensure our design not only keeps them but made them integral to the ballpark experience.”

May 2, 2018

 

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