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$2.7M Athletic Park renovation plan announced Tuesday

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Artist Rendering of Athletic Park entrance
Artist rendering of Athletic Park improvements
Proposed Athletic Park grandstand improvements
Woodchucks owner Mark Macdonald and Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple talk about the upcoming renovations at Athletic Park
Woodchucks owner Mark Macdonald and Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple talk about the upcoming renovations at Athletic Park
Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple with... (Download MP3)
Woodchucks owner Mark Macdon... (Download MP3)
4/16/13 Press Conference aud... (Download MP3)

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -  A major renovation plan was announced today for the home of the Wisconsin Woodchucks, Wausau’s Athletic Park. Mark Macdonald owns the baseball team, and says he is partnering with the City of Wausau on two separate improvements. “It’s really two projects involved here. The first being the renovation of Athletic Park or the inside of the baseball stadium, which will be 100% privately financed. The second is the development of the adjacent neighborhood park, which is a public-private partnership.”

Just outside of Athletic Park, Macdonald is donating land and money so the city can develop a multipurpose neighborhood park. “My family will donate two residential lots that we now own along 5th Street to the City of Wausau and $20,000 and from there, the City of Wausau will take over development of that athletic park.”

Inside Athletic Park improvements will be done in phases, with the first phase starting in August to construct new grandstand seating with more comfort and amenities. Macdonald says he knew when he acquired the team that improvements would be necessary. He believes the upgrades will bring in even more baseball fans. “Our fans are very loyal, and they seem to really want to come out and see the games, and I think if we can give them a better experience or something new every year, they will continue to come out and they could even bring more fans in.”

The seating in the old baseball park is not comfortable, and Macdonald understands that many of the Woodchucks fans have difficulty sitting two to three hours in those conditions. “A lot of our fans are older, and cannot sit on a bench seat for two hours without having back pain, so we need to do something to improve the seating.” Macdonald says the changes will improve the experience for every fan. “At the field level, there will be four-top tables. Above that in the grandstand, there will be new seats that include more space and seat backs, which will be very comfortable and much more enjoyable than bench seating. On the concourse level, there’s a luxury suite that will seat between 10 and 20 people. There’s going to be a drink rail where people can sit in high top chairs, and sort of a social area.”

Macdonald says the area under the new grandstand seating will be more usable and fan friendly, also. “Underneath the stadium, the concourse down there, it will be open and more spacious, and there’s going to be a new retail area down there, too.”

The total renovation plan for the Athletic Park stadium is expected to cost 2-point-7 million dollars and is all privately financed. Improvements also include a new press box in phase one of construction. In future phases of the project, expect new bleachers, retail areas, concession stands along the first base line, and the construction of group outing decks.

Macdonald is optimistic the many phases can be done in around five years. The first phase starting this fall is the most expensive part of the project.

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