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Stadium project a homecoming for Indianapolis-based designer

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Growing up in the small town of Walton, 20 miles northwest of Kokomo, Dan McCloskey wasn't interested much in sports until he went on to study architecture at Ball State University.

It was there the Lewis Cass High School alum started to get the itch for not only watching sports on campus, but how he could apply his new-found love with his future profession.

Since then, the Indianapolis-based architect has gone on to do design work on athletic fields and complexes at the University of Louisville, University of Arkansas and Illinois State University, as well as baseball parks in Pendleton and Clarksville.

McCloskey, who now works for Indianapolis-based American Structurepoint Inc., has returned to his local roots for one of his most involved projects yet, being named as the senior project architect on the recently unveiled Kokomo Municipal Stadium in downtown Kokomo.

American Structurepoint is providing complete design services for the project, as well as structural, civil and survey services, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

The $11.5 million project will include raising the elevation of the traditionally flood-prone area above the 100-year flood plain while providing 2,350 fixed seats and up to 1,500 more lawn seats north of Vaile Avenue, between Union Street and Apperson Way.

To be able to provide services to a project that will have an impact on an area he's familiar with is a bit of a dream coming to fruition, said McCloskey, who worked at Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects in Indianapolis for 13 years before joining Structurepoint.

"Being able to visit the site and know how this development will affect not only this city, but also affect the lives of people I grew up with, is a great feeling," he said.

McCloskey's design was the result of working closely with the blue ribbon committee appointed by Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, providing the modern feel of an open concourse where the spectator never leaves the field of play, concessions and hospitality areas with covered canopies for shade and enclosed suites with dedicated terraced seating area outside.

While the feel of the stadium will be modern, McCloskey made sure he maintained the integrity of the surrounding areas of the stadium in his designs, opting for more traditional natural brick for the concessions and restroom areas to tie in with the downtown's industrial feel.

"This design has more of a modern take with the open concourse that has all of the amenities in relation to the field, so when you leave to go to the bathroom or concession stand, you don't have to leave the field of play," he said. "We wanted to maintain that natural brick that you see with the historic buildings downtown on Union Street and the Haynes buildings and give it back some of that character. Some of the committee members wanted to make sure the design wasn't like a flying spaceship landed in a park-like setting — we wanted it to be integrated into the city."

McCloskey knows that another big piece of integrating the stadium into the downtown area will include how it fits in with flood mitigation plans.

The outfield concourse level will be above the floodplain elevation so water won't be able to reach the field, while subsurface drainage will go to a storm sewer system with a series of check valves that will keep the water from coming back into the field of play.

"We knew it was a flood-prone area, so we studied the flood maps extensively and there was some interesting recent data about what the site can and will be able to do," McCloskey said. "No aspect other than the dugouts will be designed below the floodplain. If we take out a certain amount of cubic yardage for (water) storage, we will have other areas that the city is consciously working on to make sure what we're doing here has a positive effect on how the flood waters work."

Designing a stadium that not only fit the vision of the blue ribbon committee but also provides a venue for all in the Kokomo area to enjoy has been one of the biggest points of pride for McCloskey.

"It's always in the back of my mind that I want this facility to be something that they can be proud of," he said. "I was talking to someone I went to high school with that plays legion ball and their kids play ball for Northwestern and we were talking about the memories of playing. The idea, anecdotally, is to make the stadium feel even bigger than it is because it might be the only opportunity for kids to play in a place like this."

Dan McCloskey is the son of Danny and Christy McCloskey. His brother, Dean McCloskey, is the city of Kokomo's vehicle maintenance supervisor.

Construction on the stadium is expected to begin next month, with the hope of opening for action in April 2015.

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