It’s been about a month and a half since the Charleston RiverDogs announced a new, 6,000-square foot club level for weddings and other entertainment purposes would be coming to Riley Park in time for the 2017 season. Now, with new electronic renderings, the RiverDogs have a solid idea of what that space might look like.
“The interior designers are designing the space based on the principle of Lowcountry elegance,” said Marv Goldklang, principle owner of the RiverDogs. “That’s the defining concept. The objective being the space will work for our 70 home games, but also for 100 other — at least 100 events — during the year, weddings to corporate events.”
The $3-million facility, which the Goldklang Group is financing, will be glass enclosed from the ground up with a view of the ballpark on one side and the Ashley River on the other.
Goldklang said it will have a banquet-style seating capacity of 235, up from an original mark of 200 for functions.
The overall capacity is around 300, but the RiverDogs plan to limit the game day capacity to about 175 so that people can move around freely without being too crowded.
The venue, which is being designed by the LS3P architectural firm in Charleston, will have a bar, a kitchen and high definition flat screen televisions, as well.
“When you mention clubs in other ballparks, it will be comparing apples and oranges,” Goldklang said. “This will be a special place.”
Construction is set to begin the day after the RiverDogs’ season comes to an end this year, and Goldklang said the group is targeting an opening day of March 1.
He anticipates reservations for non-baseball events, such as weddings and banquets, to begin as early as this summer.
The RiverDogs share Riley Park with The Citadel, but it’s not known yet how the college will utilize the new club level.
“Certainly we’ll sit down with The Citadel and get a sense of just how and when they would like to be able to use the facility,” Goldklang said. “And we’ll work off that and develop and expand our relationship. But right now this is a RiverDogs project.”
RiverDogs President and General Manager Dave Echols said the idea of the upgrade is to create a modern, upscale space with top-notch amenities so that it doesn’t necessarily feel like a baseball suite, but instead a year-round entertainment space in keeping with the “Lowcountry elegance” theme.
Echols added that another major perk of the space will be the feasibility of parking.
“We’ve got 150 to 175 parking spaces adjacent to the ballpark that are ours to use 24/7, 365,” he said. “You don’t have to park in a garage two or three blocks away. You don’t have to circle the block six or seven times. If we’re going to book it and use it and set up for the size that we think it can be maximized, we’ll have the parking for everybody to use.” Goldklang said he’s been around baseball since the 1980s and has seen ballparks evolve into more luxurious, entertainment spaces over the years. He’s confident this new addition to the 20-year-old Joe, though, won’t be like any other in the country.
“There are club levels and there are ‘Club Levels’. I would characterize the club level we’re working on as club level in capital letters,” he said. “Club levels certainly in most minor league facilities would not be suitable for hosting the very high-end events, which this club will be able to accommodate.
“It effectively will transform the ballpark into an all-year-round venue.”