BROOKINGS – RDG Consultants are fine-tuning plans to improve Bob Shelden Field with a new design and ecologically friendly features.

The Brookings City Council earlier this month listened to plans by RDG. The firm is in the schematic design phase, said architect Tom Ohle and landscape architect Jason Blome. They are working with city staff, Brookings Friends of Baseball, and Brookings High School to find out exactly what they need from the facility. They have consulted with civil engineers and other professionals, too.

The presentation is available for viewing on the city’s website as part of the study session of the Dec. 10 council meeting.

The plan is for RDG to come back in February for another presentation, Mayor Keith Corbett said. 

Bids will be presented to the council in February for final action on the estimated $3.1 million project, including financing, according to an attachment to the city council agenda.

Schedule and plans

RDG was told to make the field available by Nov. 1, 2020, and is on track to do that, Ohle said. Staff started at the end of August with design and bidding work. Their schedule for construction is April 1 to Nov. 1, 2020.

Blome showed Shelden field as it is now and then the field as it will be. 

The proposed site plan shows a new parking lot to make it more efficient and upgrades to Shelden Field, changing it from a shared baseball/football complex to baseball only, Blome said.

The new parking lot will have about 155 parking spaces, which will run east/west to improve vehicular movement and include ADA stalls on the northeast side. There will be city-required green space islands in the parking lot and additional sidewalks to the south, Blome said. There will be two areas of permeable pavers in stalls on the west side, according to the slide. 

Shelden Field

Bob Shelden Field will get enhancements, but the dimensions will be similar to what’s there now. It will be 320 feet down both the left and right field lines, 375 feet to center and 365 feet to the gaps.

A unique element is an earthwork berm for spectator viewing just over the right field fence, where the fence will be about 4 feet tall, Blome said. This will give workers the option of hauling excess earth to that area and not having to haul it off-site, which cuts expenses.

“We’ve actually slid the entirety of the field approximately 28 feet south to further alleviate what is a congestion from foot traffic circulation from the high school as well as stormwater mitigation along the northern edge of the stands,” Ohle said.

Blome noted the site has a lot of mature trees.

“We really think that’s a unique setting and a really unique opportunity,” he said. “Us shifting the field 20-30 feet south allows us to protect those trees during construction. So once the field’s done, you’ll have a mature backdrop. Helps the players that are on the third base side with shade as that sun’s dropping in late evening games.”

Dugouts, bleachers 

The primary elements, Ohle said, are the dugouts, grandstand and press box.

The two dugouts will be identical as far as the player amenities to meet Legion requirements, but one dugout will be a little longer to add storage and a place for new electrical panels for the lighting, he said.

They’ve mitigated some of the costs by bringing the sunken dugouts up to grade and eliminated the need for additional storm water piping or collection, he said.

They concentrated on the 500-seat capacity for the grandstand, Ohle said. They designed it in a “mitered, bottom-loaded configuration,” he said.

“Bottom-loaded meaning everyone is circulating from the ground up into the bleachers” and will egress the same way, Ohle said.

Six spots in the front row will be removable to accommodate those with wheelchairs, he added.

They are going with bleacher seating to accommodate the budget, but an alternate option would be chair back seating, Ohle said.

The seats have an aluminum desk system on a steel frame similar to other ballparks, he said.

The press box is along the back and has two camera platforms on either end that can also be used as additional viewing locations, Ohle said.

The pre-manufactured press box has two media rooms and an acoustically separated area for the announcer and the scoreboard operator. It comes out fully-assembled and will be craned into place, he said. Access from the press box is from the bleachers.

The canopy will extend over the press box and bleachers, and the netting will attach to the front of the canopy. The aluminum canopy will be cover for the spectators and protect the third baseman’s view when the sun is setting in the west, Ohle said.

Around the field

A concrete plaza, walkway to the field, and bullpens will be all new, as well.

They have included a bid alternate for synthetic turf on the infield. Right now, the base bid includes natural grass, Blome said.

The existing scoreboard will be preserved in place, he added.

The plan includes several flexible, multi-use areas like the one down the first base line that features a drink rail, Blome explained.

A fence will encircle the entire field and there will be one entry point for all spectators from which point they can access all public areas, including the earthen berm, Blome said.


“We have just completed our first big cost-estimating exercise,” Ohle said. They will do another at the end of the design development near the end of January.

The slide showed the construction cost estimate total as $2.5 million, which includes sitework (paving, fencing, lighting) at $514,000; baseball field (natural turf infield/outfield, fencing) at $505,000; parking lot at $466,000; field lighting at $385,000; site demolition at $150,000; grandstands at $150,000; dugouts at $130,000; canopy at $125,000; and the press box at $75,000. 

In addition, there are soft costs of fees, permit, legal expenses, inspections and others for a total of $600,000.

That brings the total of $3.1 million, Ohle said.

He included a slide with alternates and options which could be implemented, depending on what bids they get for the work. Some of those options include synthetic turf in lieu of natural grass at $330,000; HID lighting in lieu of LED at $40,000; and a windscreen for $32,000.

The windscreen could provide a place for “branding” which could be utilized by the Arts Commission, Ohle said.

Council comments

Councilor Dan Hansen asked about a bid alternate on the chairback seating versus the bleachers.

It’s $50 to $75 a seat more, Ohle said. The slide showed just the center section with chairback seating. Chairback seating requires a different depth of tread risers. The entire stadium could be done in chairback seating, but “you would lose (some) seating capacity,” Ohle said.

Councilor Holly Tilton Byrne asked how much it would cost to do the whole parking lot in permeable pavers.

“I’m not sure just doing a couple rectangles in the lot is really gonna give us a good idea of what a permeable surface could do for us,” she said.

Those two areas are collection pieces, because they are “sheet-flowing the entirety of the parking lot to Medary,” Ohle said. If the whole lot was permeable, they would collect water much faster. 

Tilton Byrne noted one of the cost-savers was to move away from LED lighting. 

“I would prefer to see us stay with that LED lighting at all costs,” Tilton Byrne said.

Councilor Patty Bacon asked where the waterflow was coming from now and how the improvements RDG is designing will mitigate that.

There is some coming off the existing high school parking lot, a swale slows it down as it makes its way to Eighth Street South, Blome said. The rest of the watershed goes through the parking lot; there’s a concrete runnel area that they will leave in the current location. The permeable pavers can help treat the water, he added.

They are also proposing a stormwater collection area just north of Eighth Street South so they can tap into an existing stormwater intake, Blome said.

Bacon asked if the green strips in the parking lot were “full-fledged rainwater gardens.”

They are raised plantings and have only about a 9-foot width, which is small to collect water, the consultants said. They could be redesigned, or they could redesign the larger green strip on the west end of the lot for a rain garden.

City Manager Paul Briseno said he had spoken to City Engineer Jackie Lanning to contact stormwater consultants to make sure the ideas were appropriate for the site. Stormwater researchers at South Dakota State University brought up a valid point, he said.

“You’ve got to be careful where you put this infrastructure in because you want it to succeed,” Briseno said.

Ohle said they are working with civil engineers on the stormwater issues.

Councilor Leah Brink asked what the difference was in the number of parking stalls from the existing lot to the new one and whether the new plan has more stalls.

“Part of the reason it’s difficult to calculate that is it’s pretty much gravel … so you can’t quantify the striped areas,” Blome said, adding he thinks there will be more stalls because they have re-oriented the lot 90 degrees.

Parks & Rec Director Dusty Rodiek said he thought there would be eight more spots.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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