By Sheryl Levitt
Listen Up, Lansing staff reporter
In April 2016, you will be able to live in the Cooley Law School Stadium outfield.
A four-story building is in the midst of being built along the back of the ballpark. This new project will contain 84 apartments, 15 of which are already leased.
A Unique Concept
According to Nick Grueser, general manager of the Lansing Lugnuts, this has been an idea long in the making.
A few years ago, thoughts were floating around about adding an apartment complex to the stadium, but there just didn’t seem to be enough room. That was, until Lugnuts’ co-owner, Tom Dickson, suddenly came up with a unique idea.
“One night it just came to him,” said Grueser.
Dickson’s vision will create a living situation in Lansing that is unlike any other in the country. Of the 160 minor league baseball teams, the Lugnuts will be the first to have apartments built directly into their ballpark. It’s what Grueser deems an unprecedented concept.
He said that there are teams with hotels incorporated into their stadiums, but The Outfield will be the first to contain long-term housing.
The Outfield’s construction is funded by a public-private partnership, a venture that is jointly funded and operated by the government and a set of private sector companies.
Tara Smith, Brand Guru for Gillespie Group said that the new construction is being financed in part by Outfield Partners LLC, a partnership between Gillespie Group and Take Me Out to the Ballgame LLC, the parent company of the Lugnuts. The rest of the funding is from the state of Michigan’s economic development agency, Michigan Economic Development Corp (MDEC).
“While it is not the norm for a state agency to buy into a project, it made sense with a sound plan, such as The Outfield, which demonstrates anticipated growth for the area,” Smith said.
The apartments are part of a large renovation project that Cooley Law School Stadium has been undergoing in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Other improvements include new scoreboards, a playground area, new suites, 360-degree concourse, improved seating, and renovated bathrooms.
“We’ve freshened the ballpark up in a lot of areas. People are proud of the projects, so they’re excited to see this take place,” said Grueser.