Big improvements planned for Arcata Ball Park

Andrew George Butler
Mad River Union

ARCATA – The Arcata Ball Park may get a facelift, with new bleachers, 400 additional seats, improved walkways, a new entrance and a beer garden.
Discussed at the City of Arcata’s Economic Development Committee’s meeting July 6, the plans for the Arcata Ball Park include a complete overhaul of entrance and exit pathways including a large foyer at the head of the park, additional concession areas and a new maintenance shed.

A consultant’s notion of possible improvements to the Arcata Ball Park entrance. Courtesy MIG

Deputy Director of Community Services Julie Neander introduced the plan to the committee. She said a consulting compa- ny was brought on by the city to redesign and generally assess the potential of the old ballpark. The consulting rm’s tentative plans for the park will have to undergo a series of amendments before work can begin. Arcata’s various committees, the Arcata City Council, the public and the Crabs organization will all have an opportunity to add input before any renovations are approved.
Crabs Board President Bill Ruff said of the plan “This [plan] is a living creature, as we receive more comments, things will change.”
The focal point of any potential redesign will center around upgrading the ballpark’s well-used bleachers and congested walkways.
The park has more than 30,000 visitors during Crabs’ two-month season, according to Ruff. Ruff said that their biggest focus is making seating safer. “You can see the bleachers sway back and forth while people sign during the seventh inning stretch,” Ruff said.
Under the plan, the old bleachers would be removed. The seating would then be divided into two sections, and elevated more than the current seats. The lower half of the seating would be accessible for the disabled, as would the walkway. The lower walkway adjacent to home plate would be replaced with seating, potentially bucket style instead of bleacher. An upper walk- way would sit atop the stadium attached to the upper row of seating as well. The announcer’s booth would be raised and include a lift.
Gruff also said that while he thinks the consulting firm’s plan has a lot of great material, he’d like to see more.
The Crabs, according to Ruff, would like to see actual dugouts, not covered benches, erected so that the ballpark would meet NCAA regulations.
The seating area for the Crabs is not big enough, forcing players to sit outside the makeshift “dugout” area – a situation which is technically against the rules, according to Ruff. Also, Ruff said he’d like to see the visiting teams have a locker room area they can use during their contests with the Crabs.
The city has about $100,000 set aside in a trust fund waiting to be spent on the ballpark. The Crabs also have been saving money.
A modest $1 ticket price increase several years ago has been the only pressure put on park patrons to help raise money.
“We’ve been looking to upgrade the ball park for decades, now,” Ruff said. “For a team like the Crabs, the setting you play in is as important as the game.”