The newest addition to Parkview Field – the 400 Club, a seating area behind the center field wall – is a $40 ticket, complete with complimentary food and drinks.
The cost to put it together? A smooth $900,000 from owner Jason Freier. And the reason for a good bit of that steep bill is about 415 feet away: the batter’s box.
TinCaps president Mike Nutter and his staff opened the 400 Club in the middle of May. It has been successful to this point, he said. The Club still has that fresh-paint smell to it, and it’s been drawing crowds, as well.
The crowd at Friday’s home game against West Michigan saw torrential rains in the 11th inning and the game was later suspended. It will re-start in the bottom of the 11th with the Whitecaps leading 7-4 at 6:35 p.m. today. The regularly scheduled game will start 30 minutes after the finish of the suspended game.
Fans in the 400 Club will watch today’s game behind angled, tinted windows, which few know why those are there or the monochromatic background and lack of signage; or the makeshift drapes placed over the windows facing away from the field.
It’s all about protecting the area where a batter’s vision, and his peripheral view, will be when he is looking at a pitcher.
You have to protect the batter’s eye, Nutter said. People are like, what is that? Well basically, we tell them there’s an area in the minor leagues and the major leagues where you can’t sell signs. The wall is clear, and same with all of this.
The windows on the 400 Club couldn’t reflect any light, either. That’s the reason for the angled glass, which is tinted and anti-glare. Credit for the design, Nutter said, goes to Populus, which designed Parkview Field.
At that time, the company was known as HOK Sport. Despite the working relationship, Nutter was hesitant at times because of the pricing for the necessary components. Although the 400 Club was privately funded, cost minimization is a prerogative.
I’m a baseball guy, not a glass guy, Nutter said. So the line items for each were like tens of thousands of dollars to add that to the regular glass. And I was like, Call me crazy, but if it’s tinted, can it still glare? Or if it’s anti-glare, can’t it be tinted?’
And they just laughed and were like, You keep doing what you do, and we’ll tell you how it needs to be done.’
The finished product, Nutter said, actually provides a better batter’s eye than Parkview Field did without the 400 Club. And it gave the organization a wow factor it’s been looking for since the opening of the venue.
But there’s still work to be done, Nutter said. TinCaps manager Jose Valentin, who coaches third base during games, noticed a slight glare during batting practice one day.
So he informed Nutter that some light was coming through the back of the 400 Club. The club president got some black drapes set up on hooks, and the team has ordered a permanent set of curtains.
We’re just asking everybody, is everything all right? Nutter said. Because we don’t take this lightly.