LECOM Park, Spring Training home of the Pittsburg Pirates. As the most historic spring training ballpark in use, dating back to 1923, this facility continues to evolve and accommodate a first class training program for professional athletes.

With the rollout of their “One Baseball” initiative, Major League Baseball has included a series of facility improvement guidelines for baseball stadium designs and renovations to elevate minor league facilities. Included in those guidelines are requirements centered around player safety and security, player locker rooms, dining facilities, training and performance offerings, media considerations, and inclusion initiatives. Our continued partnership with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization introduced our team to this initiative. We quickly began the process of evaluating LECOM Park, home the Pirates for spring training, and their minor league affiliate Bradenton Marauders.

Pirates locker room at LECOM Park designed with above standard locker count and square footage.

While exploring the design requirements for LECOM Park, our team was struck by the universal nature of these guiding principles. We began to see parallels in our recent and ongoing sports design projects. Fundamentals such as safety and security, inclusive design, separation of space, and upgraded training facilities are foundational aspects we’ve been implementing into our public space work for years. Many of the new requirements mirror design recommendations utilized on the Atlanta Braves Spring Training facility, completed in 2019.

Atlanta Braves Performance space at CoolToday Park (LEFT) depicting the upgraded weight room with size and materials that meet or exceed the outlined MLB standards. The locker room (right) hosts 66 player lockers, well exceeding the minimum 32 provided in the proposed standards.

Also, the new indoor court sports facility at IMG Academy, currently under construction, is an excellent example of an inclusive facility.

IMG Academy’s new Indoor Court Sport facility, though not a baseball focused program, has design considerations that fall in line with the standards set by MLB. These include considerations for locker rooms, referee safety, player safety and athletic training space.

So, what does all this mean? When a leading organization like MLB provides a guideline for design, it’s common to see those expectations become the gold standard for design moving forward. As time progresses, those standards become the minimum requirement for future design and construction. As design professionals, we work hard to anticipate these trends and work with our partners to account for them early in the design process. We are fortunate to work with such great organizations as the Pirates, Braves, Detroit Tigers, St Luis Cardinals, Miami Marlins and Major League Baseball on projects that will propel sport into the future.