A design-build team has been selected to make changes to Capaha Field. The Cape Girardeau City Council chose Penzel Construction Company and Gray Design Group on Monday to give Capaha Park a fresh look, not only for the upcoming Southeast Redhawks baseball season, but for the entrance of the Catfish, a new collegiate wood-bat league which will begin playing in June of 2019.
Julia Jones, Parks and Recreation Department director says the city has long discussed making improvements. When the Parks and Recreation Stormwater Tax was passed in April just a few months after the announcement of the wood-bat league, they identified nearly $1 million worth of changes to be made. The Catfish will contribute an additional $500,000 for changes.
The city then put together a RFP (request for proposal), and chose the Penzel/Gray team out of 5 initial proposals.
Jones says after 2-4 weeks, the city should be able to narrow down their biggest priorities for the field before contract work begins.
“Then they’ll get started right away, and hopefully the weather will look favorably upon us before the Redhawks baseball season starts,” says Jones.
Two of the city’s priorities include replacing the athletics field lighting with energy-efficient LED bulbs, and adding new fencing.
“We know it will probably help the Catfish, but potentially the Redhawks, too, who would like to charge admission and have stronger security at the ballpark during games and events,” says Jones.
The Catfish hope to increase the fan experience at the ballpark, and are looking to transform the current parking area closer to Broadway Street into a type of food court and pedestrian access-way.
“And we’ll do whatever else designers come up with in regards to new seating. If we can do grandstand work in this first stage, we’ll certainly try to work on some of that as well,” says Jones. “So whatever those resources will be able to provide, that’s up for the architects and the contractor to begin working on.”
Jones says the player area has received some attention in the past few years, including a new artificial turf, the installation of a digital scoreboard, and a soon-to-be-added batting cage. But, the spectator experience has needed improvements for quite some time.
Additional changes are expected to be made to Capaha Park separate from the ballpark. The south side of the park will see a new restroom and a new splash pad next summer.
“There used to be an old pool there, one of the very first pools at Capaha,” says Jones. “It was filled in with dirt years ago, but that area will be excavated, and hopefully will help take care of the overcrowdedness at Cape Splash, and also make up for some of the loss of the Capaha pool.”
They hope to have the project completed by the time the Redhawks begin playing in February.