The Legacy of Cheney Stadium
The development of Cheney Stadium as the home of professional baseball in Tacoma began in 1957 as a shared idea by area businessmen Ben Cheney and Clay Huntington. Following a three-year effort by these men, the San Francisco Giants agreed in the fall of 1959 to relocate their Triple-A club from Phoenix to Tacoma hinged on the city’s ability to construct a new stadium in time for the beginning of the 1960 season. The city council approved the measure, clearing the way for a new stadium. The project took just three months and 14 days to complete and was finished just in time for Cheney Stadium to host the Tacoma Giants first game on April 16, 1960.
Outside of minor upgrades that included clubhouse renovations, the installation of a new playing surface and replacing the stadium’s original wooden seats, Cheney Stadium remained largely unchanged over the next 51 seasons. Five decades of housing Pacific Coast League baseball in Tacoma began to take a toll and the house that Ben Cheney built was understandably beginning to show its age.
Cheney Stadium Renovation
The stadium once dubbed the “100-Day Wonder” in tribute to its brisk construction time was set to undergo an extensive offseason renovation under a schedule equally as ambitious. From the last pitch of the Rainiers final home game of the 2010 season until April 2011, Cheney Stadium was to undergo a historic transformation in just a 210 day period.
At its core, the renovated Cheney Stadium incorporates additional steel that spans across more than 96,000 square feet and a roof made from Douglas Fir glu-lam beams, the largest of which weigh over 7,000 lbs. The ballpark’s wooden exterior, extending up to 75 feet high at its peak, is indicative of a ballpark that was built to be geographically relevant. Every addition was constructed using local materials, built with Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest in mind. Following the renovation, Cheney Stadium’s seating capacity was set at 6,500.
Cheney now features amenities that include luxury suites, a club/restaurant, club seats closer than any other seat in any other ballpark across the nation and a grass berm located along right field. The stadium boasts double the number of concession points of sale and more ADA seating and better ADA access. Gone are the wooden walls that lined left and right field, replaced by lower, padded, chain-link fences featuring inset bullpens. The Rainiers clubhouse and dugout, formerly located along the first base line, have shifted to third base, with visiting teams now residing in the fully renovated first base location. What has not changed are the views fans have grown accustomed to over the last five decades of Cheney Stadium. The ballpark’s grandstand is still the same one constructed more than five decades ago with the steep pitch that makes every seat in the house a great one. The 29-foot tall “batter’s eye” continues to serve as a center field landmark and taunt batters at a distant 425 feet from home plate.