The Cheney Stadium renovation began immediately after the Rainiers last home game, and it is in full swing right now. The stadium is a hard-hat and protective-goggles zone, and right now only a few original elements remain: the seating bowl, the party decks, the scoreboards. and the right- and center-field fence.
I was on the road, first in Fresno and then in the PCL playoffs, when the tear-down began. The early photos were sent to me by our food-guy-turned-photographer, Corey.
** NOTE: Click on photos to make them larger**
First, they picked apart the dugouts, and created some space for the roof to come down. I emailed this photo to the former Rainiers managers Dave Myers, Dan Rohn, and Daren Brown – each of whom desperately wanted new dugouts, because the old ones weren’t big enough to fit a baseball team. Replies were universally positive.
As you can see below, the seats that are closest to the field are being rebuilt – the rest of the seating bowl will remain the same.
Tearing down the roof was a big part of the project – removing it without damaging the seats below was a difficult feat, and I was told it was a rather costly part of the renovation. First, however, they had to remove my office from the top.
They actually lifted that off with the crane, and carried it to the ground and demolished it in the parking lot. I was on the road with the team in Sacramento when this happened – yeah, the playoffs were fun, but I had big plans for this event: Press Box Destruction Tailgate Party! I am fortunate to work with a true tailgate party expert, and I was going to enlist his services. We would set up in the parking lot, fire up the grill, break out some tunes, tap a leftover Gold Club keg, throw the football around – and then celebrate wildly when the press box was destroyed. I was going to invite all my friends. Instead, all I got was this lousy Pacific Coast League championship.
The Cheney Stadium Ticket Office suffered a similar fate:
They used these giant cherry-pickers to take down the roof, piece by piece.
The stadium sure looks strange with no roof.
They took out the concrete support columns, and put in these (temporary?) metal supports to hold the seating bowl up. Those concrete columns always gave me the heebie-jeebies, because they tapered down to a tiny circumference at the base.
A lot of the work being done now is in the concourse area, where they are excavating under the stadium and leveling the entire area. There will be no more slippery hill on the third base side of the concourse, and there will be more than one entrance tunnel for disabled fans – in fact, the stadium will finally be ADA compliant.
One thing that is not going away? The first-base locker room – although that will now be the visiting team’s home.
I wandered into the outfield and took some shots. The left-field fence is gone, but the legendary center field wall remains, as does the right-field fence. The team never had any intention of changing the deep center field dimensions, and now they are considering just leaving the original Giant Wall in place in center (as opposed to rebuilding it in the same spot). I would applaud this if that’s what they decide - that deep center field fence is a Cheney Stadium landmark, and when you hear the whack of a ball hitting the plywood out there, you know someone hit a rocket.
This left field foul pole has seen better days.
After the final game, home plate was dug up and presented to the Cheney family. An orange cone marks the spot. Looks like our groundskeeper decided to use the home-plate cutout to preserve some turf.
Speaking of the Cheney family – ol’ Ben’s statue is staying in place – but he’s been boxed up for the winter.
It’s an amazing project. I’ll post more pictures as the construction progresses through the winter. Special thanks to my two co-workers who showed me around: