Politics & Government

City Hall picks team to design, build Wichita’s new Minor League baseball park

After a week’s delay, the City Council is ready to play ball with a group to develop Wichita’s new $75 million baseball stadium.

On Tuesday, the council picked its team: JE Dunn Construction, EBY Construction, Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, DLR Group, and Professional Engineering Consultants.

Those companies will design and build the stadium to replace the demolished Lawrence-Dumont Stadium at the northwest corner of Maple and McLean.

The city is using a single team to handle both the design and construction of the project in the interest of time.

The stadium will be the home field of the Minor League Baseball team now known as the New Orleans Baby Cakes, a farm team for the Major League Miami Marlins.

The still-to-be-named team is expected to throw out its first pitch in April 2020 — a short time frame for a 10,000-seat stadium that’s expected to have state-of-the-art conveniences and concessions.

“We’ll start with some meetings with the city and the team owner to try to determine exactly what their criteria are to make this a great baseball stadium for the city and for the fans,” said Don Barnum of DLR, the stadium architectural firm that will lead the design part of the design-build contract. “From that point we need to work diligently with our team partners here, the builders of the facility, to ensure that we meet all their schedule criteria so they can start this project on time and obviously finish on time.”

Scott Sherry, vice president of JE Dunn, said he expects to meet with city officials to get started within a week and break ground in February.

“One of the first things we need to do is site the ball park, locate where home plate’s going to be,” he said.

The council initially considered the contract last week, but put off a decision until Tuesday to give members more time to go over the documents and look at the design-build team’s track record on constructing baseball stadiums.

On Tuesday, the contract was approved without any further discussion of those issues among the council members.

“We need a baseball stadium to play in very soon,” said Mayor Jeff Longwell, who wanted to approve the deal last week. “We’re in good hands.”

Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.