Whitecaps Unveil Renovation Plans for LMCU Ballpark that Will be Ready in 2027! List of LMCU Ballpark Renovation Plans: 2023-2027!
Hello Everyone! Welcome to Sports Teller! Today, we will be going over the List of LMCU Ballpark Renovation Plans: 2023-2027! In fact, we will be showcasing the team’s remodeling history in its home ballpark. Without further adieu, let’s begin!
List of LMCU Ballpark Renovation Plans: 2023-2027
The Home of the West Michigan Whitecaps is Getting New Upgrades!
Just four months after the Whitecaps’ 2022 season concluded, LMCU Ballpark will be getting a huge makeover. In January, West Michigan announced a major slate of renovations that will begin during the 2023-2024 season and is scheduled to be finished by Opening Day 2027 (subject to change). This will be the first remodeling project for the Whitecaps ballpark since 2017 when they added an extended playground (outfield) along with a 3rd base hospitality area and new warning track. Despite a 2014 fire that damaged the 1st base side of the venue, the fixing phase luckily did not interfere with any Whitecaps home games that year.
Before we get into the LMCU Ballpark renovation timeline for the foreseeable future, we must introduce the main team itself. The West Michigan Whitecaps are a High-A farm team for the Detroit Tigers. In fact, the Whitecaps last won the Midwest League championship in 2015. Their home stadium in Comstock Park is about a 10-15 minute drive from Grand Rapids (home of American League Hockey’s Grand Rapids Griffins). The venue was formerly known as Fifth Third Ballpark from 2000 until 2021. The team gained national attention in 2009 when Adam Richman of “Man v. Food” completed the 5-pound burger challenge (retired in 2018) at the Whitecaps stadium.
Now, for the new round of renovations, what is going to happen with LMCU Ballpark by 2027? What upgrades will the Michigan ballpark receive during the remodeling period? Will the Whitecaps provide more offerings to meet the MLB’s new standards? For the List of LMCU Ballpark Renovation Plans for 2023-2027, please refer to the information below!
2023-2024 LMCU Ballpark Renovation Timeline
Whitecaps Switching Home Clubhouse to 3rd Base Side
- Perhaps the most important stadium upgrade from the players’ perspective is getting a revamped clubhouse. The new hangout will include a new batting tunnel along with a space for female coaches and larger workout rooms. In addition to the clubhouse reboot, the Whitecaps will be switching their home dugouts from 1st base side to 3rd base side. There are lots of MLB teams that have home dugouts at third base: Guardians, Cubs, White Sox, Marlins, Tigers, Angels, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Giants, Athletics, Pirates, and Blue Jays. Though not officially confirmed by West Michigan, it is likely that the visitor’s clubhouse will also get a facelift.
New Stadium Lights
- Not only will LMCU Ballpark’s new lightning system be used for baseball games, but they will also be incorporated into the entertainment experience. The features would be synced to the music throughout game-day, whether it’s for the Whitecaps’ home run or during a national holiday. Imagine the lights shining red and blue during 4th of July or flashing bright and dark for every home team’s victory.
Bullpens Relocating to Right Field
- As part of the upcoming renovations, both the home and visiting clubs will relocate their bullpens from the playing surface to beyond the right field wall. The Whitecaps previously held bullpen sessions down the 1st base line, while the opponents took warm-ups down the 3rd base line. In the past, big league teams like the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants have transitioned their bullpen areas from the field to behind the outfield walls. Only two MLB teams are currently using the on-the-playing-field bullpen sessions: Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays.
New Field Playing Surface
- LMCU Ballpark will be upgrading experiences both on and off the field in the near future. In addition to the new clubhouses, the players will be walking/running on a new playing surface. There will be new infield dirt and outfield grassing areas, though the warning track won’t be updated since that aspect took place in 2017. Also, the venue will receive a new drainage system so rainwater can escape to the drainage holes and not be flooded on the field.
Expanded Fan Netting
- The Whitecaps have a key priority in fan safety and injury-free during game days. A common theme of foul ball/baseball bat injury prevention in the baseball industry, LMCU Ballpark will join other stadiums in improving fan netting by extending it from left field foul pole to right field foul pole. Previously, the protective netting would stop at the end of the team’ dugouts. Pretty much all 30 Major League stadiums have foul pole-to-foul pole fan nettings.
Removal of Grass Berm Seating on 1st Base & 3rd Base Sides
- In the next year or two, there will be fewer fans sitting on the grass with their blankets because the Whitecaps will be getting rid of the 1st base and 3rd base grass berm slopes. In their places will be new hospitality spaces for large party groups and they will be sized from the field level to the concourse areas. At the first base side gathering section, it will be adjacent to the newly-relocated bullpens and will have three floors total. Meanwhile, the third base side social space will be similar but slightly larger with four floors total. For fans who like berm-style seats, don’t worry because there will be a new grass seating area located at right field as part of the second phase of renovations.
New Club Area at the Suite Floor
- From the new clubhouses to relocated bullpens to enhanced stadium lighting, West Michigan will now have a suite level premium area to rely on. Situated at the 3rd base side above the newly-built batting tunnel, the new suite level club will provide the following: food buffet, outdoor balcony for viewing, and an overall capacity of over 150 spectators. The new area’s style of experience will be quite similar to the soon-to-be demolished Pepsi® Stadium Club at center field.
2024-2027 LMCU Ballpark Renovation Timeline
Adding the 360-Degree Concourse
- In the next coming years, the Whitecaps will benefit the fans’ overall experience with a 360-degree boardwalk-style concourse. With this strategy, ticket holders can walk around LMCU Ballpark without missing any game action. Pretty much all 30 MLB teams have some form of a 360-degree concourse because they want to bring their big league level ambiance for fans and travelers alike. Other than the new addition, there is no confirmation in terms of which areas will be added to the outfield part of the boardwalk concourse. West Michigan has some options to choose from, such as outfield seating, additional food stands, and a team store kiosk. Based on the renderings, it is likely that the team will demolish the two premium dining areas in the outfield: Pepsi® Stadium Club and the Pioneer State Mutual Insurance Deck. Other than that, the West Michigan Whitecaps Founders Rooftop (right field line) will likely stay open. As briefly mentioned before, there will be berm-style grass seating at right field behind the new bullpens.
Brand New Main Entrance to the Stadium
- The main exterior of LMCU Ballpark will be getting a whole new look, as the Whitecaps will receive a new main entrance that could change the way fans think of baseball in Grand Rapids. The new entry gate will consist of two stories: (1) fans walk up the stairs in a single route to the cement floor adjacent to the huge brick wall with large team photos and (2) the area then splits to two flights of stairs to choose from to get to the main entrance. Unlike the current entry, the new entrance will be widened so spectators can see the field as they walk through security for scanning.
New Main Team Store/Ticket Sales Office
- It looks like West Michigan will be adding to more than just a new main entrance to the front of the ballpark. At the entry’s left side will be a new team store where ticket holders can purchase some souvenirs like t-shirts and hats. At the right side of the entrance will be new ticket sales offices where fans can buy tickets on the day of the game or for future Whitecaps contests.
Addition of the Home Plate Club
- From the widened front entrance to 360-degree concourse, LMCU Ballpark is improving experience in all areas of the venue. Coming soon will be a new home plate club located at field level. Not much is known about the new experience, but it will likely include theater-style seating with the possibility of waiter-service and a buffet lounge located underneath the level 100 seats. In the big leagues, there are teams that have home plate clubs to bring fans closer to the action: Rays, Braves, Marlins, Athletics, Giants, Mariners, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Mets, Reds, Nationals, Pirates, Astros, Royals, Rockies, Twins, and Cardinals.
Updated Suite Level
- In addition to the upcoming 3rd base side premium club, the entire suite level will be modified in the foreseeable future. Details on the upgrades are sparse, but it’s possible that the team could remodel all the suites and install new television sets. What’s likely going to happen is that the suite-level concourse will be renovated.
Expanded Main Concourse/Food Offerings
- If West Michigan is going to improve the outfield area, they are going to have to do the same thing to the rest of the stadium. The Whitecaps will be expanding the main concourse behind home plate with new experiences. Those additions include the following: member-only outdoor suites, new food stands, and more dining options/snacks kiosks. Speaking of new food, the concept can range from fried offerings to grilled sandwiches to even healthier choices.
New Two-Story Center Field Club
- Perhaps the most noticeable upgrade to the outfield other than the 360-degree concourse is the two-story hospitality club that has a capacity of over 350 spectators. Located behind the center field batter’s eye, the new offering will be in place of the demolished Pepsi® Stadium Club. The first floor will have a large food marketplace along with a team bar area and restrooms. On the second floor, there will be a large social gathering that includes food buffets in addition to an outdoor seating section.
Recent LMCU Ballpark Renovation History
- New Centerfield Video Board
- Staff-Operated Scoreboard Adjacent to Jumbotron
- Dugout Cameras
- Nearly a Dozen TV Monitors in the Main Concourse
- New Stadium Signage
- First Base Concourse Fixed as a Result of Fire that Destroyed Part of the Stadium.
- Extension of Kids Playground in the Outfield
- 3rd Base Side Hospitality Area
- New Warning Track on the Playing Field
- Man vs. Food 5-Pound Burger Challenge Retires
- Fifth Third Ballpark Becomes LMCU Ballpark