Upgrades coming to Yakima baseball stadium

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Plans are in the works to overhaul Yakima County Stadium. They're coming from the owners of the new Yakima Pippins. They have several things they want done. Some before the team takes the field next summer.

Yakima County Stadium, once home to the Bears, sits empty, quiet and locked.

But, next June, the crack of the bat returns when the Pippins take the field. Not before some changes to the stadium. The owners' first priority?

"The first is customer and fan experience."

Zachary Fraser is the C.O.O. of Pacific Baseball Ventures. His company is working with architects and engineers to brainstorm ways to make the stadium better.

On the list so far, larger dugouts and seats behind home plate. Concessions could go digital. Apps would let fans order food from their seats. And, cheaper parking you can pay for with a credit card.

Fraser emphasizes these are only plans and that public would get to weigh in first.

"We're going to actively and proactively seek the input of the community on this because once you put a shovel in the ground, once you start pouring concrete and building things, you can't undo it."

The changes would be phased in over a few years with the cost running from $250,000 to $500,000.

So, who's going to pay for it?

"It usually ends up being a combination of private dollars, user-generated dollars, such as club fees, and other sources," says Fraser. "In the situation of government-owned facilities, it's usually some sort of government funding."

However, the county doesn't seem ready to put up anything. I spoke with County Commissioner Kevin Bouchey. He said, "For the foreseeable future, the county is not in a position to provide any resources for stadium upgrades."

Fraser emphasizes taxpayer money from the county is not a necessity. Work will be done with or without the county's help to give fans a better experience the next time they go to the ballpark.

Some upgrades will be done without public input. That work includes refurbishing the beer garden and group party decks.