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Lancaster OKs Baseball Stadium : Sports: Council approves $10-million project to bring Riverside minor league team to Antelope Valley.

July 26, 1995|JEFF FLETCHER and JOHN CHANDLER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Current plans are for a sunken field, with ground-level entrances leading to an aisle in the middle of the seating area. Seats below the aisle will be retractable stadium seats, like those at major league parks. The 4,500 hard-plastic seats, with backs, will be arrayed in a single sloping tier around the field. No bench seats are planned.

The stadium will also include 12 enclosed luxury boxes, including two reserved exclusively for city use under the terms of the lease.

There will also be grassy areas--the constant among the new California League parks--for picnic-style viewing from the corners of the stadium. Fans in the grassy areas will push the capacity of the park above 5,000.

The outer architecture of stucco and brick will be designed to fit the desert setting.

Players' clubhouses will be situated in the outfield corners, meaning players will have to walk along a rail in front of the seats to get to their dugouts.

"We wanted to make the players a little more accessible to the fans," Tingle said.

Such features are among the reasons minor league baseball's popularity has exploded in the past five years. The National Assn., the umbrella organization of major league baseball's 17 sponsored minor leagues, marked a record attendance of more than 33 million in 1994, up 11% from 1993.

The minors have also benefited from the frustration of many fans over major league baseball's recent eight-month player strike.

Among the appeals of minor league baseball are cost (tickets are usually cheaper than those at a movie theater) and proximity to the players (any 4-year-old might be chosen to stand next to the shortstop for the national anthem).

Because minor league players are largely unknown and rarely stay in one city more than a year, teams rely on family atmosphere and promotions to draw fans.

Bob Lofrano, baseball coach at Pierce College and a part-time scout for the Chicago Cubs, said he would recommend a trip to Lancaster for fans who have not seen minor league baseball.

"It is very enjoyable to see the antics between innings and how they get the fans involved," he said. "It's something you don't see in the major leagues. The in-between-innings stuff is as much fun as the game."

Times staff writer Phil Sneiderman contributed to this story.

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Proposed Stadium The construction of a 4,500- seat stadium in Lanscaster is under consideration as part of plans to move a minor league basegball team to the Antelope Valley. Source: HOK Sport

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