Play Ball: Modular Construction a Winner with Baseball Stadiums


While it’s still winter across the country, pitchers and catchers report for spring training in early February, a reminder that baseball season and warmer weather are just around the corner. As the players fine tune their skills in temperate climates, stadium operations managers back home are working on ways to perfect their part of the ballgame experience; constructing new in-concourse food stands, building on-property merchandise stores and opening experiential craft beer stations are often on their off-season roster.

With the baseball season 26 ½ weeks long – longer if your team is among the elite organizations enjoying a postseason that can run to early November – ballparks have just a three-month window to undertake construction projects. Layer on the fact that those remaining months are usually the coldest of the year with unpredictable weather delays and offseason facility updates become a time-pressed task. As a result, many stadiums are turning to shipping container construction for quick-turn, creative, easy-to-install food stands, restaurants, merchandise stores and bars.

It’s a perfect solution: Crafted through a condensed design-build process, Boxman Studios shipping container structures are built at an indoor manufacturing facility then transported fully constructed, much like a manufactured home, with little to no construction disruption on the stadium property – an especially ideal construction solution when new stadium needs arise mid-season.

An Easy Restaurant Re-Do

Camden Yards showcases one such shipping container structure solution. The famous Boog’s BBQ at Camden Yards began as a pop-up food stand owned by famed Baltimore Oriole’s player Boog Powell. After regularly drawing staggering crowds, the ballpark recognized that a more established restaurant space would allow Boog to serve legions of BBQ fans in a more efficient way and timed the new restaurant to be unveiled along with other major stadium upgrades.

A quick-to-market solution was needed, pairing Boxman with  outside architectural firm Populous to create a shipping container restaurant reflective of the BBQ’s fame and establishing Boog’s legacy in a more permanent way. The structure was built in the Boxman warehouse during the offseason and was ready for installation before Camden Yards opened its doors for the regular season, allowing the ballpark to focus only on the site preparation needed ahead of the delivery of Boog’s unique restaurant unit.

A Baseball Experience – Even in the Off Season

Today major league sports are as much about creating an experience as they are about the game itself, so ballparks must pay attention to their retail offerings. Fans want team merchandise to connect them to their favorite player, even when the season is over.

To provide the best retail experience possible, ballpark operator Delaware North turned to Boxman Studios to create a hat shop in Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. The unit was built as a flexible space that could be used by multiple tenants if needed and the overall design suited Busch Stadium’s new modular feel. The beauty of the unit is that it can also be installed outside the stadium in the off-season, ensuring fans can buy team merchandise throughout the year.

Borrowing Baseball’s Energy

Beyond the team or the game itself is the energetic, fun atmosphere that baseball brings to a city. Developers have taken notice and are building around ballparks to bring people to the area for more than just baseball. Retail, apartments and entertainment venues are being built near stadiums to make the most of the lively atmosphere.

Ballpark Commons in Franklin, Wisconsin, is one such development, built as a mixed-use entertainment district aligned with minor league team, the Milwaukee Milkmen. Boxman has built multiple shipping container units for the development, including a retail pace, ticket booth and walk-up beer tap and kitchen. The structure is two stories and features a deck, a component that was important to the developers in order to encourage visitors to stay and hang out. The units that Boxman created will allow the ballpark to draw people to the area for more than just baseball games, connecting them to retail and other entertainment.

While the game of baseball is a time-honored tradition that doesn’t change much from season to season, the ballparks and teams at their helm continually seek new and innovative ways to manage their stadiums and serve their fans. Shipping container construction will continue to align with this need with a fast-to-market solution that allows teams to make the most of the off season while looking forward to spring.