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A new look for the waterfront

Alex Doty • Feb 16, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The future of Waterfront Stadium looks a little bit more clear, thanks to a decision by City Council on Monday night.

Council approved the latest version of the redesign plan for the stadium. The latest concept is the result of dozens of meetings with area stakeholders, several revisions following each meeting, and final input from disability and senior citizen advocates.

“The city, with a grant from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, had Johnson-Hill Land Ethics Studio come in and do some design group functions,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “The idea is to create a more park-like setting that’s useable year-round.”

City Council last viewed the concept during its Jan. 5 meeting, and then sent the design back for more tweaks.

“Since the last time, we’ve made a number of adjustments,“ McGinnis said.

The stadium would replace the current stadium-style bleacher setup. The current conceptual plan features tiered seating built into the landscape, a new band shell and stage, a waterfront lawn area for additional seating, space for volleyball and seasonal ice skating, winter fire pits, restroom and dressing room facilities, and various sculptural and decorative elements.

”I think it will be a lot more user friendly,” Mayor Geri McCaleb said. “It will be a destination point for people.”

The seating capacity would be comparable to the current stadium, with 2,000 seats, McCaleb said. She noted that there could be more capacity with temporary seats and bleachers.

McCaleb said the latest design is the result of nearly two years of work.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” she said. “We’ve addressed a lot of concerns about accessibility for seniors and handicap folks to make this as accessible as possible.”

Steve Loftis, chairman of the Waterfront Stadium redevelopment committee, was pleased to see the process at this point.

“I assure you we’re ready to move to the next phase, which is raising money,” he said.

City officials say there has been quite a bit of discussion about a capital campaign for a stadium renovation, and McGinnis noted that fundraising would be achieved using be a four-legged approach: large corporate sponsorship, traditional community fundraising efforts, grant writing, and seeking support from local governments.

“We hope to talk to all of our neighbors,” McGinnis said. “It really is a regional asset.”

McGinnis noted that getting City Council’s approval of the design concept on Monday was “a big step” in getting a project going. Still, the city manager noted that it will be a while longer until the plan becomes a reality.

“I expect it will be a couple of years of refining our plans and putting funding together,“ he said.

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