Sahlen Field

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Sahlen Field
Dunn Tire Park.jpg
Former namesPilot Field (1988-1995)
Downtown Ballpark (1995)
North AmeriCare Park (1995-1998)
Dunn Tire Park (1999-2008)
Coca-Cola Field (2009-2018)
Location275 Washington Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Coordinates42°52′52″N 78°52′27″W / 42.88111°N 78.87417°W / 42.88111; -78.87417Coordinates: 42°52′52″N 78°52′27″W / 42.88111°N 78.87417°W / 42.88111; -78.87417
OwnerCity of Buffalo[1]
OperatorBison Baseball Inc.
Capacity16,600[2]
16,907 (2017-2018)[3]
17,600 (2015-2016)[4]
18,025 (2005-2014)[5]
21,050 (1990-2004)[5]
19,500 (1988-1989)[5]
Field sizeLeft Field-325 feet (99 m)
Left Center-371 feet (113 m)
Center Field-404 feet (123 m)
Right Center-367 feet (112 m)
Right Field-325 feet (99 m)
SurfaceKentucky Bluegrass
Construction
Broke groundJuly 1986
OpenedApril 14, 1988
Construction costUS$56 million
($119 million in 2018 dollars[6])
ArchitectPopulous (Formerly HOK Sport)
Services engineerWendel Engineers PC[7]
General contractorCowper Construction Management
Tenants
Buffalo Bisons (AA/IL) (1988-present)
Empire State Yankees (IL) (2012)
Buffalo Nighthawks (LPBL) (1998)

Sahlen Field (formerly Pilot Field, North AmeriCare Park, Downtown Ballpark, Dunn Tire Park and, most recently, Coca-Cola Field) is a 16,600-seat baseball park in Buffalo, New York, which hosted its first regular season baseball game on April 14, 1988, as the tenants of the facility, the Buffalo Bisons, defeated the Denver Zephyrs, 1-0.[8] HOK Sport (now known as Populous) designed the park as one of the first retro-classic ballparks. This concept featured classic and distinctive architecture, a grass, baseball-specific design and a location within the downtown core. The same firm would bring this concept to the major leagues four years later with Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

History[edit]

Sahlen Field and One HSBC Center
The old Sahlen Field scoreboard
An aerial view of Sahlen Field
Skyline view

Before the baseball field was built, the corner of Swan and Washington was the site of Ellsworth Statler's first hotel, Statler Hotel.[9] It was later called the Hotel Buffalo after Statler built a new Statler Hotel on Niagara Square in 1923 and sold this one. The Statler Hotel was demolished in 1968, leaving the site empty until the stadium was built in 1988. Prior the Statler Hotel, St. John's Episcopal Church occupied the site, built from 1846-1848 on land donated by Joseph Ellicott,[10] remained in use until 1893 and was finally demolished in 1906.[11]

At the time of the stadium's construction, Buffalo was hoping to get either an expansion Major League Baseball team or a relocated team; Buffalo was one of the five finalists in the early 1990s National League expansion process, which led to the 1993 debuts of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins. The ballpark was originally built with a seating capacity of 19,500 people,[5] which making it the third-largest stadium in minor league baseball and the overall design allows for future expansion to accommodate a major league team: capacity could be increased to nearly 40,000 by double-decking the existing mezzanine. In the first season the Bisons played at the stadium, the team shattered the previous minor-league attendance record, as many Buffalonians and visitors traveled downtown to enjoy the amenities offered by the new facility, which replaced the old War Memorial Stadium (where the Buffalo Bills played from its inception in 1960 until 1973, when it moved to its current location in Orchard Park) as the Bisons' home where, in this inaugural season, the Bisons outdrew a number of Major League Baseball teams.[12]

Sahlen Field during the offseason

After several years as Pilot Field, there was a dispute involving the naming rights to the stadium following Pilot Air Freight's defaulting on naming rights payments. For part of a season, the stadium was known locally simply as the "Downtown Ballpark." In July 1995, however, another company stepped in and acquired the naming rights and the stadium became known as North AmeriCare Park. The stadium maintained this moniker for only a few years, however. Prior to the start of the 1999 season, Dunn Tire, a local chain of retail tire outlets, became the naming rights holder for the stadium, hence the name Dunn Tire Park. On December 17, 2008, the Buffalo News reported that a new naming deal had been reached with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo, with the stadium renamed as Coca-Cola Field for the 2009 season.[13] With the Omaha Royals moving out of Rosenblatt Stadium after the 2011 season, Coca-Cola Field became the highest-capacity minor league baseball stadium in the United States.[14]

The 2019 season will be the 32nd for the Bisons ballpark. On March 29, 2018, it was announced the Coca-Cola Bottling Company would not be renewing their naming rights on Coca-Cola Field beginning in 2019. In a statement, the Bisons stated they would continue their partnership with the company, but not the naming rights to the stadium.[15] On October 9, 2018, the ballpark was renamed to Sahlen Field, as the Bisons and local hot dog packaging company Sahlen's announced a 10-year naming rights deal.[16]

The Bisons' lease on Sahlen Field expires at the end of the 2019 season; the Bisons have begun negotiations for renewal at the start of that season.[2]

Facilities[edit]

In 2011, the Buffalo Bisons added a new state of the art video screen board which is 80' wide by 34' tall and provides fans with 2,500 square feet of entertainment. The screen is the largest high-definition LED video display in all of Minor League Baseball.[17] Along with the new video board, a new lighting system was added for Coca-Cola Field, which cost over $970,000 and contains fewer bulbs and emits more light than the old lights.[1] For the 2014 season, $500,000 was spent in improvements to Coca-Cola Field, which included a new sound system to replace the dated version which had been in house since the ballpark's opening and the installation of new LED message boards on the facing of the club level down both baselines.[18] On August 22, 2014, it was announced the stadium would get new seats for the 2015 season, replacing 3,700 original seats from the ballpark's opening, which were installed during the offseason and these seats are for specially reserved sections, dropping the capacity of the stadium from 18,025 to 17,600.[19][20] On August 22, 2016, the second phase of new seating project was announced to take place over the offseason. Seats in sections 115-122 were replaced with seats identical to those that were installed during Phase 1, dropping the capacity of the stadium from 17,600 to 16,907.[21] Additional seats were replaced prior to the 2019 season, further reducing seating capacity to 16,600.[2] Sahlen Field is served by the Seneca Station on the Buffalo Metro Rail.

Events[edit]

Sahlen Field was also home to the Buffalo Nighthawks of the short-lived Ladies Professional Baseball League in 1998,[citation needed] when it was known as North AmeriCare Park. Other events hosted at the stadium include the "Ballpark Brawl" annual wrestling events, the annual Taste of Country in June and the annual National Buffalo Wing Festival on Labor Day Weekend.[22] The ballpark has hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game twice, with Pilot Field hosting the inaugural game in 1988 in which the American League-affiliated team defeated the National League-affiliated team, 2-1[23] and Coca-Cola Field hosting the 25th Annual Triple-A All-Star Game in 2012 in which the Pacific Coast League stars defeated the International League stars, 3-0. Buffalo's Matt Harvey was selected as the IL MVP.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "City of Buffalo and Bisons to Partner and Improve Experience at Coca-Cola Field". WGR. Archived from the original on March 23, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Fink, James (March 23, 2019). "Buffalo Bisons freshen the ballpark lineup for 2019". Business First. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  3. ^ "Bisons unveil 2017 schedule & announce Phase 2 of ballpark seating project". Minor League Baseball. August 22, 2016. Archived from the original on October 2, 2016. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  4. ^ Northrop, Milt (March 25, 2015). "Baseball Herd Changes Start with Seat Upgrade". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on April 7, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d "2012 Buffalo Bisons Media Guide" (PDF). April 9, 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  6. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  7. ^ Maddore, James T. (April 19, 1991). "Wendel Engineers Plans New Building". The Buffalo News. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  8. ^ "Coca-Cola Field". Bison Baseball Inc. January 28, 2006. Archived from the original on March 5, 2013. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  9. ^ "Ellsworth Statler in Buffalo". Western New York Heritage Press. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  10. ^ LaChiusa, Chuck (2002). "St. John's Grace Episcopal Church – History". Buffalo Architecture and History. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  11. ^ "Ellsworth Statler in Buffalo". Western New York Heritage Press, Inc. 2007. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  12. ^ "Buffalo Bisons Set Minor League Attendance Mark". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. August 20, 1988. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  13. ^ Harrington, Mike (December 17, 2008). "Goodbye, Dunn Tire Park. Hello, Coca-Cola Field!". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2008.
  14. ^ Kingston, Rachel (April 4, 2010). "Buffalo Among the "Top Ten Places for a Baseball Pilgrimage"". WBEN. Buffalo. Archived from the original on April 8, 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  15. ^ "New rights deal, new name on deck for Coca-Cola Field". Archived from the original on April 5, 2018. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  16. ^ "Sahlen Field - the new home of the Herd". Archived from the original on October 10, 2018. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  17. ^ Arrington, Blake (March 30, 2011). "HD Scoreboard Highlights What's New". Minor League Baseball. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  18. ^ Harrington, Mike (February 24, 2014). "Bisons to Unveil New Message Boards, Sound System on Opening Day at Coca-Cola Field". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  19. ^ "Bisons, City of Buffalo Announce Installation of New Seats in Special Reserved Sections". Minor League Baseball. August 22, 2014. Archived from the original on April 21, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  20. ^ Harrington, Mike (August 22, 2014). "Updated: Bisons to Replace 3,700 Seats As Phase I to 'overhaul' of Coca-Cola Field". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on April 8, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  21. ^ "Bisons unveil 2017 schedule & announce Phase 2 of ballpark seating project". Minor League Baseball. August 22, 2016. Archived from the original on October 2, 2016. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  22. ^ "Dunn Tire Park to Host August 23rd Wrestling Super Show". Minor League Baseball. June 1, 2007. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  23. ^ "Triple-A All-Star Game Results (1988–1992)". Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  24. ^ "Triple-A All-Star Game Results (2008–2012)". Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on September 10, 2018. Retrieved July 7, 2017.

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
War Memorial Stadium
Home of the
Buffalo Bisons

1988 – present
Succeeded by
Present
Preceded by
Don Valley Stadium
 UK
Universiade
1993
Succeeded by
Fukuoka Dome
 Japan
Preceded by
Spring Mobile Ballpark
Triple-A All-Star Game
2012
Succeeded by
Aces Ballpark