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Whitecaps win national award for ballpark

November 18, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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West Michigan Whitecaps Fifth Third Ballpark
The West Michigan Whitecaps, the Detroit Tigers' Class A affiliate, play their home games in Comstock Park at Fifth Third Ballpark, which has a seating capacity of 9,500. Photo via fb.com

The Midwest League Championship isn’t all the West Michigan Whitecaps won this year.

For the build out after the Fifth Third Ballpark fire on January 3, 2014, the team has won Ballpark Digest’s 2015 Best Ballpark Improvements Award.

“A ballpark fire so close to the opening of the season represented a huge challenge to team ownership and management,” Kevin Relchard, publisher, Ballpark Digest. “That the Whitecaps turned such a terrible incident into a chance not only to re-build but improve Fifth Third Ballpark is truly remarkable.”

The fire in early 2014 destroyed the ballpark along the first-base line. The team had to have the park ready for the April 8, 2014 season opener, along with the league’s All-Star Game in June 2014.

To help alleviate the stress of the deadlines, the team’s offices were relocated and helped lead to the new renovations shown off during the 2015 season.

This season, the Whitecaps welcomed a new office building with a sponsored group deck on top and a Craft Clubhouse, with 16 craft beers on tap, sponsored by Founders Brewing Co.

The ball club worked with Grand Rapids-based architect Progressive AE and Grand Rapids-based contractor Wolverine Building Group for the improvements.

“The ballpark improvements at Fifth Third Ballpark would be notable no matter the circumstances,” Relchard said. “That they came about after such a traumatic experience speaks well to the Whitecaps and the team’s commitment to fans.”

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