There will be more room for fans to take in Okotoks’ favourite summer pastime this year.
Town council approved expanding Seaman Stadium, adding 120 seats on the facility’s west side along the first base line, as well as an extension of the current patio.
Okotoks Dawgs executive director John Ircandia said the expansion is driven by strong community support. He said the Dawgs organization wants to preserve the enjoyment of the game for everyone who attends ball games, which could be hurt by overcrowding in the stadium.
“By building another seating section and expanding the patio area it’s going to enable more fans to enjoy what’s on the field and the experience at the stadium without being jammed in like sardines,” said Ircandia.
It took longer than expected to get approval for the expansion, he said. They had hoped to have the extra seats in place for the 2017 season. Now that the development permit has been approved, they’ll be getting construction underway as soon as the frost is out of the ground in order to be ready for the first pitch in June, he said.
“We’re good to go,” said Ircandia. “The seats are in storage. They were ordered and we’ve had all our ducks in a row, so we’re hoping to start pouring cement as son as the frost leaves.”
A second phase of the project, which has not been submitted to the Town for approval at this time, could see the left field berm extended to wrap around the corner of the field with another patio, he said.
The expansion will also address a shortfall in parking and washroom facilities, ideitified by the Town, Okotoks planning services manager Jamie Dugdale told council.
“The Town will work with the Dawgs to ensure additional washrooms are provided,” said Dugdale. “This may need to be done in the form of temporary facilities until such time as permanent facilities can be added.”
He said the stadium meets fire building code requirements, but parking is another thing.
According to the land use bylaw, there must be one stall for every five seats in the stadium, he said. There is currently a shortfall, but the Town is letting it slide because of the seasonal nature of the use, council’s focus on active transportation and future plans for transit.
“Generally, administration is satisfied the site will function adequately the majority of the time,” said Dugdale.
He said the Town will monitor off-site parking around the site as it has in the past and mitigate issues when there may be soccer and BMX track traffic at the same time as a ball game.
“Gates have been installed at the Eco Centre to prevent illegal drop-offs, so it might be something we consider to open those gates on game nights to increase off-site parking options for patrons,” said Dugdale. “Game-day parking will need to be monitored over time to see how that evolves.”