Renovated Cheney Stadium will usher in a new era in Tacoma baseball tonight
A steady drizzle has the infield covered in white plastic, but as the time ticks down, the place is in a high-level state of bustle.
Staffers scurry by carrying armloads of bright red T-shirts, burly young guys wheel stacks of cardboard boxes around. Crews are wiring up the TV and radio booths and the control room for the electronic scoreboard is filled with techies.
At 7:05 this evening, it's showtime for the newly redesigned, redveloped, revamped and renovated Cheney Stadium and the Tacoma Rainiers' home opener against the Sacramento River Cats.
"We'll probably be putting on the final touches up tilll the first pitch," says Rainiers PR guy Ben Spradling.
Technicians are testing the stadium's sound system. A jazzy version of Edgar Winter's 1973 hit "Frankenstein" is blasting across the ballfield, over and over and over .
Nearly everything has been replaced, including the entrance and exterior, seats, clubhouse, locker rooms, concession stands, and skyboxes.
The Rainiers' website boasts that:
Cheney now features amenities that include luxury suites, a new club/restaurant, clubseats that are closer than any other seat in any other baseball park across the nation and a grass berm located along right field. The stadium boasts double the number of concession points of sale (goodbye, never-ending lines!) and more ADA seating capacity along with better ADA access. Gone are the wooden walls that lined left and right field, replaced by lower, padded, chain-link fences featuring inset bullpens.
A nod to history
Several things have not changed: The ballpark's steep-pitched grandstand is still the same one constructed over five decades The 29-foot tall "batter's eye" continues to serve as a center field landmark and taunt batters at a distant 425 feet from home plate. And the Simpson-Kraft Hall of Fame remains untouched, a tribute to Ben Cheney - the local businessman who helped bring minor league baseball to Tacoma - and other Tacoma baseball figures of the past.
Click on the image above for a gallery of pictures of both the new Cheney as well as a few from the first season of the old stadium in 1960.
Driving directions: Cheney Stadium is near the intersection of Tyler and 19th street in Tacoma just off of Highway 16. From Interstate 5, take exit 132 (Highway 16) west. Take the 19th Street exit going east. Once on 19th, turn right on Cheyenne which is the first street sign you see. This takes you directly to the parking lot. Map here.