Wichita Wind Surge Opens 2021 Baseball Season in New Ballpark

The much-anticipated kick-off to the 2021 minor league baseball season has special meaning for the city of Wichita, Kansas. After a delayed opening due to the pandemic, fans can now cheer on their home-town team Wichita Wind Surge – AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins – in the new Riverfront Stadium. DLR Group designers celebrated alongside team officials, fans, players, coaches, city leaders, and other members of the design-build team responsible for the project as the ceremonial first pitch was delivered across home plate on May 11.

Riverfront Stadium opening day Wichita Kansas DLR Group Alistair TuttonRiverfront Stadium in Wichita Kansas by DLR Group. Photo by Alistair Tutton.

Riverfront Stadium, which replaces Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, is located on approximately 22 acres west of the downtown core in the Historic Delano District. It is considered the front porch to downtown, offering patrons exceptional views of the city’s skyline, as well as the surrounding neighborhood and nearby Arkansas River. An economic driver for the city, Riverfront Stadium is part of a planned mixed-use development and is designed to host a variety of events beyond baseball games, including outdoor concerts, festivals, community events, group gatherings, and other outdoor sports.

“DLR Group’s design offers unique seating options and hospitality areas to accommodate a variety of ticket prices for fans, families, and spectators visiting the ballpark. These flexible spaces also allow the venue to be used year-round for entertainment and sporting events hosted by Wichita Wind Surge, and the city,” said DLR Group Principal Bob Carlson, AIA. “The design aesthetic draws upon the Delano District and the rich heritage of baseball in Wichita.”

Riverfront Stadium opening day Wichita Kansas DLR Group Alistair TuttonRiverfront Stadium in Wichita Kansas by DLR Group. Photo by Alistair Tutton.

Patrons attending an event at Riverfront Stadium have multiple viewing choices, including 5,935 fixed seats, unique left-field berm seating, a picnic area, roof decks, tiered outfield seating, loge boxes, and suite and club seats. Standing room and specialty areas bring the venue’s total capacity to over 10,000 spectators. In addition, DLR Group successfully implemented new facility standards set by Major League Baseball into its design. While all minor league clubs must be compliant by 2023, Riverfront Stadium opened with enhanced player development areas such as larger clubhouses for both home and visiting teams, upgraded food prep and dining areas, video coaching facilities, LED lighting, a dedicated weight room, and two pitching/batting tunnels.

The $75 million venue was funded through state-approved STAR bonds and a local Tax Increment Finance district, which capture tax revenue generated by local development. City officials opted for a design-build approach to deliver the project on an accelerated schedule of 15 months. The design-build team included a mix of national and local experts: JE Dunn served as lead design-builder along with local contractor Eby Construction. Wichita-based firm SJCF served as Architect of Record along with DLR Group as designer and baseball specialist; and local firm PEC provided engineering services.