Illustrations courtesy of Hill & Wilkinson
Grand Prairie has a history rich in aviation. It is home to the Naval Air Station, was a manufacturing site for Vought, which later became Ling Tempco Vaught (LTV), and is now a part of Lockheed Martin. For a period, Grand Prairie was the North American headquarters for Aérospatiale Helicopter. This company eventually became Eurocopter.
Small wonder that they would choose an aeronautical name like AirHogs as the name for their new American Association of Independent Professional Baseball team. AirHogs is a World War II term for the pilots who loved to fly so much they "hogged the air." The entire ballpark takes on an aviation theme in signage, lighting and even the suites, which are called "hangars."
The new 250,000-square-foot Grand Prairie AirHogs Ballpark was designed by architect SPARKS Sports of Tulsa, OK, and was built by Hill & Wilkinson, Ltd. It is located on Lone Star Parkway, north of Interstate 30 in the Grand Prairie entertainment district. The prices and amenities are geared for family fun and quality of life for area residents. The construction price tag of $14,791,250 has been funded by a 1/8-cent sales tax that Grand Prairie voters approved for this project in 2007.
The signature of the ballpark's entry is the steel truss canopy at the entry. Three rolled trusses fabricated by Alamo Steel of Waco span 69 feet over the entryway. Because of their radius, they were shipped in shorter sections and fabricated on site with full penetration welds, according to Mike Oswald, project manager for Hill & Wilkinson.
Mid Cities Erectors, LLC erected both steel truss features for the stadium — the entryway and the main roof trusses. The main roof trusses cantilever toward home plate, creating a roof overhang 20 feet above the suite-level seating on the second level. This feature provides roof protection yet creates an open-air atmosphere.
Potter Concrete used a Gates & Sons concrete forming system for the cast-in-place seating risers. Specialty Supply & Installation Co. of Willis, Texas, installed Hussey Seating's Legend stadium seats.
The playing field was designed and built by Roger Bossard, the head groundskeeper for the Chicago White Sox. He is the well-known and respected authority on turf groundskeeping in the sporting field market.
"Along the first base line there is a Kid Zone that includes a sunken area about 6 feet below the elevation of the concourse that goes around the stadium," Oswald described. "It is protected by black netting that goes up almost 20 feet and at a 45 degree angle to help protect against line shots. There is also a deck for parents with seating and umbrellas so they can watch the children and the game."
Games in the Kid Zone include a miniature replica of the AirHogs Ballpark, whiffleball, basketball, soccer, miniature golf, and rock climbing. A pool and party decks are available for group sales. For those who cannot sit still, a concourse boardwalk with intermittent seating goes all around the outfield about 15 feet above the level of the playing surface to provide any viewing that a fan desires.
Every Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. is open house at the Grand Prairie AirHogs Ballpark, where fans can meet the AirHogs players and staff, and take a tour of the new ballpark. The team website is www.airhogsbaseball.com.