The City of St. Paul’s Lowertown District is beloved on many levels, including for its historic architecture, its vibrant arts and dining scenes, and as the home of the St. Paul Saints. Prior to 2015, however, the site of the Saints’ future ballpark, CHS Field, was ill-renowned as one of the top ten most contaminated sites in the Twin Cities. Coupled with the city’s need for more green space, regenerative design, and a replacement for Midway Field, which Saints’ co-owner Mike Veeck affectionately referred to as “the ugliest ballpark in America,” CHS Field was conceived as a multifaceted “brownfield to ballpark” solution that is equal parts public amenity and sustainable community asset.
While traditional sports venues tend to rise from their urban contexts, with imposing façades that do more to exclude than engage, the 7,000-seat CHS Field operates as a low and compact public space, where an atmosphere of interest can be discovered at every turn. The physical ballpark is carved into the site’s topography, creating a seating bowl and playing field that sit below street level. This not only allows guests inside the ballpark to feel the pulse of Lowertown, but for pedestrians outside to share in the experience of the building and its happenings, whether it’s a ballgame, concert, or other special event.
Using a combination of masonry, steel, and a warm wood canopy, CHS Field is designed to blend in with the district’s historic timber and iron warehouses, while also showcasing the facility’s openness and light footprint. In keeping with that ethos, regenerative building systems are integral to CHS Field’s daily operations. The facility is powered using a mix of District Energy biofuels and solar power, a cistern beneath the outfield concourse captures rainwater which provides 25% of irrigation needs, and the Saints organization has committed to operating a zero-waste facility.
CHS Field is the first major sports venue to meet Minnesota’s B3 Sustainable Building 2030 Energy Standards, a progressive conservation program designed to significantly reduce the energy and carbon in commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings.