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Apartments in the 'Outfield' — Minor-league team wants residences at ballpark

The Outfield project will feature approximately 80 residential units as well as a year-round restaurant.
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The Outfield project will feature approximately 80 residential units as well as a year-round restaurant.

One of the reasons fans love Wrigley Field is because it appears to have been dropped into an otherwise typical neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. The rooftop apartments beyond the ivy-covered bleachers add character and charm to the ballpark setting. Chicago Cubs ownership should have purchased those properties along Waveland and Sheffield avenues long ago. Too bad for them.

The Lansing (Mich.) Lugnuts and the city that owns their ballpark want to take a page from Wrigley's book and construct perhaps 100 apartments literally inside of the stadium. By way of a $22 million project split down the middle with public and private funds, the Midwest League's Class A club for the Toronto Blue Jays and the city seek to expand and upgrade Cooley Law School Stadium in downtown Lansing, the state capital.

The plan, called the "Outfield," would be part of a bigger plan to upgrade parts of downtown as a whole. It's a similar concept to what Fort Wayne, Ind. has done with its pro team, the Tincaps, and the Harrison Apartments beyond the left field fence.

Cooley Stadium stadium itself was opened in 1996 and needs upgrading regardless, ownership says. Major league star Carlos Beltran played there when the Lugnuts franchise belonged to the Kansas City Royals.

If the city council approves, the project would be done around the next two off-seasons and be completed by the opening of the 2016 season, the Lansing State Journal reports. It's really a neat idea that Lugnuts owner Tom Dickson has brought forth. Other than Wrigley, the closest thing in the majors might be the B&O Warehouse at Camden Yards.

Have you ever wanted to live in a ballpark? This would be your first chance, legally.

Lindsay Van Hulle writes in the State Journal:

In addition, Dickson and Lansing developer Pat Gillespie will work together on the private development, which would include a four- to five-story building wrapping the outfield with 80-100 apartments and space for a restaurant, Dickson said. Gillespie’s company, Gillespie Group, would manage the property.

What might such an apartment cost in rent? This two-bedroom/two bath with 1,250 square feet of space in the nearby "Stadium District" goes for $1,850 per month. But that's without a right field in your back yard.

When my neighbors and I used to play our version of sandlot ball, it was in the back yard of our apartment complex. It was possible to break windows, and one time we did. Most of us went running. An unfortunate few got caught. Looking at the renderings of the proposed apartments, the Lugnuts have set up the possibility that a long home run could break somebody's window. It'd be funny if the players on defense scattered.

One thing about the ballpark plans: There don't appear to be any rooftop patio areas; just billboards. They might want to think about adding something up top.

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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