New Bleachers for Fergie Jenkins Field

    Posted by Ryan Wilby

    Apr 29, 2024 4:15:00 AM


    In southern Ontario lies the picturesque municipality of Chatham-Kent, a rural area teeming with history. In addition to having been the northern terminus of the Underground Railroad in the 19th Century, it was also home to one particularly famous baseball player.

    Born in Chatham and known locally as “Fergie”, Ferguson Jenkins was a prominent figure in the Chatham athletic community before getting his big break in the major leagues. Competing in track and field, ice hockey and basketball throughout his youth, it was baseball that became his ultimate love. With a career that spanned nearly 20 years in Major League Baseball, Fergie spent most of his time with the infamous Chicago Cubs. Throughout his career he amassed three all-star seasons, led both the National League and American League in wins, had over 3,000 strikeouts and was the first Canadian pitcher to win the Cy Young award.


    Following his illustrious career, the local field in Chatham known as Rotary Park was named after the famous ball player.First built back in the 1950s, it quickly became one of the premier baseball diamonds in the province but by the 1970s, it was in need of serious repair. After a period of neglect, the grandstand was eventually condemned and torn down.

    Eventually, additional funding was directed towards the old ball diamond and it started to regain some of its luster from years past. With a round of financing from the local Rotary Club, the field began to develop again and soon regained its title as a premier destination for baseball in southern Ontario.

    As part of these continuing improvements to the ball diamond, our team was contacted in order to help add some major seating upgrades to the beloved ballpark. With a new baseball team in the works, the Barnstormers were aiming to make Fergie Jenkins field their new home and wanted to ensure they could seat the masses. Looking to add about 500 seats in the form of an impressive new grandstand, we had to ensure that there was ample space available, while also considering a number of other factors. 


    After visiting the site, we realized how much of a challenge fitting this size of a grandstand into the existing space might be. But given our experience, we were up to the challenge and worked closely with key stakeholders as we began to plan and design the new seating structures.

    In addition to fitting the new structure inside the existing footprint, we had to ensure that the seating was elevated enough for spectators to see over the backstop brick wall as well. As with most grandstands that we install, we were also tasked with ensuring that the bleachers were completely accessible, which included barrier-free seating areas and custom ramps that would allow access for all.

     Our design team was quickly on the design and was able to turn around a full drawing of the new structures. This was all the client needed to award the project and kick the project into full gear.

    Considering the relatively mild winter we had this year, our team was able to get out to the site earlier than expected and begin working towards getting this impressive bleacher installed. Ahead of the spring season, the new grandstands were completely installed and cleared ready for use.

    Awaiting the spring baseball season, these new bleachers were well received by Nathan Puchnatyj, Supervisor of the Parks, Recreation and Facilities for Chatham-Kent. Stating that he could not be happier with the job, we believe it’s safe to say that Fergie would  be thinking the same.



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