Southwest University Park named best new ballpark
POSTED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 2:54pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 2:56pm
El Paso, TX — Southwest University Park, the home of the El Paso Chihuahuas, has been named the Ballparks.com Ballpark of the Year for 2014. The announcement was made in today’s USA Today Sports Weekly by Joe Mock, president of Grand Slam Enterprises and frequent contributor to USA Today publications.
The honor is given annually to a new or remodeled baseball stadium with the best combination of aesthetics, architectural design, attractive site selection and fan amenities.
Josh Hunt, Managing Partner of MountainStar Sports Group, said, “This is truly an honor for the entire community of El Paso. I believe our City can be very proud that the El Paso Chihuahuas play in a venue that is recognized as being the best new ballpark in the country. From the outset, our objective was to build a first-class facility.”
Hunt added, “The unique design was a key factor. The project team started with a small, tight amount of land in the heart of our city, and turned it into a ballpark with distinct ‘neighborhoods’ that make up the total venue. And to top it off, we have incredibly supportive fans that create the best environment in Minor League Baseball. Populous, the construction team and consultants, and the City of El Paso should be very proud of this honor. It’s really very special.”
“It is a tremendous honor for Southwest University Park to be named Ballpark of the Year by Ballparks.com,” said El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser. “I think every El Pasoan can feel this ballpark is theirs and take pride in what it represents – not only family fun and excitement at the ballpark, but also national recognition at the highest level. I want to congratulate the City of El Paso's planning team, MountainSports Group and everyone who was involved in building this great facility. This is an award well-deserved."
The architecture firm, Populous, designed the ballpark that is situated in downtown El Paso on a little more than five acres of land. This is the eighth honor for Populous, who also won the honor in 2004 for the design of Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres (the Chihuahuas Major League Affiliate), in 2000 for the design of AT & T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and in 2001 for PNC Park the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Southwest University Park incorporates El Paso’s rich history with its unique design. The red brick exterior resembles the nearby Union Depot and includes a box car-like façade and archways along the concourse.
Two buildings, the Santa Fe Pavilion and Big Dog House, adorn right field with hospitality areas for parties and individuals alike. The City Hall Grill, a tribute to what once stood on the site of the ballpark, and Sun Kings Saloon, a tribute to El Paso’s baseball past, make up the Big Dog House while the open air floors of the Santa Fe Pavilion offer 360 degree views of the ballpark and the city.
The ballpark also features commissioned public artwork that is displayed on both the exterior and interior of the venue, giving way to Mock titling his review “Artistic Ballpark is a Masterpiece” following his visit in April. Mock, who has visited 317 Major and Minor League baseball parks, referred to Southwest University Park as an “artistic triumph” and “a thing of beauty.”
With its stained glass clock tower, porcelain hand-painted murals, and “Knot-Hole Fence” the ballpark gives visitors more than just baseball, but an education of El Paso’s long history.
“We commend the Chihuahuas organization, MountainStar Sports Group and the City of El Paso for their dedication to creating a first-class environment for their players and fans,” said Pat O’Conner, President and CEO of Minor League Baseball. “It is an honor for an MiLB stadium to be recognized as Baseballparks.com’s Ballpark of the Year for 2014.”
“The level of excitement over my in-depth review by fans in the El Paso area has even topped what I saw last year,” said Mock. "They constructed one of the great facilities in the sport."
To read more of Mock’s review of Southwest University Park, visit http://www.baseballparks.com/ElPaso-1.asp.