Project has all the perks, but top floor is the payoff

Casey at the Bat has added a safety vest and is now stored under the baseball stands. It will placed at the main entrance of the Lincoln Park Sports Complex.



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Casey at the Bat has added a safety vest and is now stored under the baseball stands. It will placed at the main entrance of the Lincoln Park Sports Complex.

Jamie Hamilton, the chairman of the JUCO World Series, looks down onto Suplizio Field from the hospitality level at the stadium.



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Jamie Hamilton, the chairman of the JUCO World Series, looks down onto Suplizio Field from the hospitality level at the stadium.

A room with a view: A group from The Daily Sentinel, along with JUCO Chairman Jamie Hamilton, gets a look at Stocker Stadium from the new hospitality level during a tour of the facility’s renovation.



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A room with a view: A group from The Daily Sentinel, along with JUCO Chairman Jamie Hamilton, gets a look at Stocker Stadium from the new hospitality level during a tour of the facility’s renovation.

Rob Schoeber of the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department, shows the expanded first-base dugout, part of the renovation project at the Lincoln Park Sports Complex.



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Rob Schoeber of the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department, shows the expanded first-base dugout, part of the renovation project at the Lincoln Park Sports Complex.

Thousands of people drive by the ever-changing Lincoln Park Sports Complex “tower” every day.

They see the changes from a distance, maybe even a little closer when they walk or run on the Stocker Stadium track.

Unless you actually get inside the construction fences, though, you can’t truly get a feel for the scope of the project.

Monday was that day.

Guided by Rob Schoeber, the director of the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department, and Jamie Hamilton, the chairman of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, a group from The Daily Sentinel and Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster did a walk-through Monday of the $8.3 million project.

A public tour of the new facility is planned before this year’s JUCO World Series, with a date to be determined.

The mild winter has the project still ahead of schedule, despite the addition of building offices for the Grand Junction Rockies.

Monday, workers were installing siding and working on the concession areas. Inside, more men were prepping sheetrock for painting.

The new baseball dugouts are nearly double the size of the old dugouts and were the impetus for the entire project, Schoeber said, with the NJCAA asking for expanded, updated dugouts.

About 150 additional seats have been added in the first-base stands and the east football stands.

The first-base seats will be individual stadium seats, complete with cup holders. They’re raised above the dugout, so no more obstructed views and no more fans walking in front to get to their seats.

Instead, fans will enter from the new concourse behind the first-base stands.

The main gate will remain, with a couple of changes. The plaques honoring Ralph “Red” Stocker and Sam Suplizio will be mounted at the entrance of the football and baseball stadiums.

The “Casey at the Bat” statue will greet fans as they enter the stadium instead of being tucked in a corner.

Schoeber said fans will have eight “points of sale” to buy hot dogs, soft drinks, pizza and other stadium fare in the concourse, and there’s room for additional vendor carts.

Plans call for televisions in the concourse area to show either the game on the field or one streaming online or on television, and radio broadcasts can be piped in so fans won’t miss a play.

Restrooms are on the concourse level, across from the concession stands.

The project is scheduled for completion in early May, before high school and Colorado Mesa University graduations. Track meets will be run at Stocker in the spring, with seating in the west stands.

For now, all high school and CMU baseball games are scheduled for Canyon View Park, with the hope of at least some games, including CMU’s Little League/Record Attendance Night, at Suplizio.

“They’re working as diligently as they can to get us in,” Schoeber said of FCI Constructors, the lead company in the project.

Upstairs, though, is where the project really gets impressive.

Eight stories high, there are three levels. The first is a mezzanine, which can be used in a variety of ways. It will mainly serve fans in wheelchairs and their companions or family members, giving them a much better view of the field than before.

It’s an open-air level, but shaded by the two upper floors.

Two flights of stairs (or one elevator stop) up is the press level. The pressbox serves both the football and baseball sides, is more than twice the size and is more functional than the old structure.

The top floor is the payoff.

The hospitality level is roughly 80 feet up, with breathtaking views of not only the stadiums, but Grand Mesa and Colorado National Monument.

It, too, will have televisions and the capability to pipe in radio broadcasts.

Workers have roughed in the bar area, and groups can have their get-together catered by the vendor of their choice, Schoeber said.

The city of Grand Junction owns the liquor license and will run the bar service.

Hamilton spearheaded the project by securing a 25-year extension to host JUCO, which will pay the majority of the cost. He can’t wait for fans to see the finished product.

“I think it’s incredible. What’s amazing is, you can’t explain it to people until they see the views,” Hamilton said.

“The view is what makes it so nice. You can tell everybody how nice it is, but until you’re here and experience it, it’s unexplainable.”

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