Fisher Cats unveil plans for nearly $1M stadium renovations
MANCHESTER — The season opener may be 48 days away, but New Hampshire Fisher Cats President Mike Ramshaw would open the gates at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium today if he could.
“I can’t wait for fans to see what we have in store for them this year,” said Ramshaw. “You’ll have to see it to believe it.”
The inch or so of freshly-fallen snow on the field aside, summer was in the air at One Line Drive in Manchester Thursday as team officials unveiled what Ramshaw called “the biggest, boldest renovation project in team history” — a nearly $1 million effort to bring the beach to the ballpark.
Renderings revealed by team executives at a press conference show the entrance to Northeast Delta Stadium being redesigned to create a new pavilion and plaza, featuring a tiki bar, game area and live music stage.
“We’re thrilled to introduce this project, and I can’t wait for our fans to experience it this season,” said Fisher Cats owner Art Solomon in a statement. “We’re providing our guests with a brand new, one-of-a-kind location to relax and enjoy a night at the ballpark and want our fans — old and new — to take in the new sights and sounds this season.”
The team’s owners, NH Triple Play LLC, state in paperwork filed with the Manchester City Clerk’s office they are funding the entire cost of the project, estimated at $951,700.
Ramshaw said as fans enter the ballpark they will pass by an illuminated rock waterfall with the Fisher Cats logo and statue of a Fisher Cat at the top of the main stairway — designed by Stonemakers of Merrimack — leading to the Samuel Adams Bar and Grill restaurant. Plans call for the west wall of the in-stadium eatery to be removed, creating an open-air pathway to the new plaza and tiki bar.
Below the Bar & Grill, the former picnic area will feature four rows of tiered seats and drink rails. The new section, which Ramshaw said will be available for group reservations and outings, will have 165 swivel chairs with mesh backs overlooking the playing field.
In essence, a mini-version of the Monster Seats atop the left field wall at Boston’s Fenway Park.
Ticket prices for the new section will be $36 per seat, which includes access to the all you can eat buffet inside the Bar & Grill, Ramshaw said.
“Much like that stadium we all know to the south of us, it’s a whole different experience to watch a game from that vantage point,” said Adam Wagner of Market Square Architects in Portsmouth, which designed the new features. “The tiered seating and drink rails, it’s really going to be a unique experience for fans.”
Wagner said the game area in the new pavilion will include cornhole boards, while the 12-foot by 15-foot musical stage will feature both pre- and post-game entertainment from local acts.
According to Daryl Luter, Director of Field Operations and Senior Project Manager at Fulcrum Associates of Amherst — the general contractor for the project — construction at the park kicked off two weeks ago.
“We’re working on structural modifications below the tiered seating area, and bringing in structural steel for the tiki bar and live stage,” said Luter.
The tiki bar will be constructed using a bamboo laminate structural material and synthetic bamboo roofing. The structure will also be portable, allowing grounds crew personnel to bring the bar indoors during the offseason.
Ramshaw said team officials hope the tiki bar atmosphere will help draw in “the millennial crowd.”
“A lot of teams in the minor leagues are putting in tiki bars at their fields,” said Ramshaw. “The Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion has one at their facility and it does very well. Everybody wants to go to the tiki bar, and that’s what we’re hoping for.”
“It’s wonderful to see the Fisher Cats invest in their facility and make it an even more desirable destination for both out of town guests and Queen City residents,” said Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas.
Ramshaw said — weather permitting — the renovations will be ready for opening day. The Fisher Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, open the 2017 season April 6.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I’m confident our team will come through,” said Luter.
Group tickets for the tiered left-field pavilion can be reserved for any 2017 game by calling 641-2005.