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Remodeled Peoria Stadium set for Mariners' camp

Complex in midst of three-year makeover to be ready for Cactus League games

SEATTLE -- When Mariners and Padres fans arrive in Arizona for the start of Cactus League games in two weeks, they'll be greeted by the sight of a remodeled Peoria Stadium at the teams' Spring Training complex.

The Peoria Sports Complex is in the second stage of a three-year makeover, corresponding with 20-year lease extensions agreed to by the facility's two longtime tenants, the Mariners and Padres.

Last year saw the clubhouses, offices, weight training and workout areas for each team expanded and rebuilt. The second phase of the improvements this winter involved renovating and expanding the stadium that sits between the two teams' facilities and practice fields.

Workers are still finishing up some last-minute touches, according to Chris Calcaterra, the sports facilities manager at the Peoria Complex, including some painting and final work on the front gate. But the revamped stadium will be ready to host four college games this week, starting with Nebraska vs. BYU on Thursday afternoon and wrapping up with Washington vs. Oklahoma State on Sunday.

Those games serve as the final dry run before the Mariners and Padres kick off Cactus League play on March 4 in their annual charity game.

"We're not quite open yet, but they've done a really good job improving as much as we can in the stadium for both the fan base and the teams," said Calcaterra, who is in his 18th season at the facility.

The first change fans will see is a large multi-level structure at the front of the stadium and a new main entrance. A 4,900-square-foot building has been constructed on the third-base concourse, with a vastly improved team store and relocated first aid room. The second level of the new building includes an open terrace for group functions including a new concessions stand, bar and restrooms.

"One of our biggest problems was there was no real main entrance before," Calcaterra said. "Now Gate B is the main gate and things are consolidated to get people in and out quicker. And we've added 14 ticket windows. But the biggest thing people will notice is the big building at the front."

The renovated team store is more than three times larger than the old facility and already opened for business last week.

Inside the stadium, about 1,000 seats have been added to bring the facility's capacity this year to 12,339. Several seating improvements were made, including new fixed seats with cup holders throughout the stadium.

Seats along the first- and third-base lines were redirected at an angle toward home plate for better comfort. Two rows of field-level seating have been added behind home plate and down the lines.

In the outfield, the pedestrian walkway was widened and a new 2,400-square-foot group event pavilion and bar was added in left field that can accommodate 300 people at both private events and general public service during games.

The entire stadium façade and seats are painted in a new blue color scheme to complement the team clubhouses, which were constructed in 2013 in Phase 1 of the project. The final phase for next year will involve replacing the grandstand area at the end of the third-base line with fixed seats and a social area that will also include an interactive kids zone.

As part of the project, the field's turf was completely replaced as well. Calcaterra says the playing surface is the best it's been during his time in Peoria and he vows everything will be in place for the start of Cactus League play.

"We are absolutely ready," he said. "I think both fans and the teams are going to enjoy the upgrades."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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