More finished improvements to Coveleski Stadium, home of the South Bend Silver Hawks, will be unveiled Friday when children can use the new playground area and splash pad in the rightfield corner of the ballpark for the first time. The splash pad area includes a changing room so parents can put dry clothes on their kids before they leave the park.
I don’t have any photos of that area because it was still under construction when I visited The Cove earlier this month, but here is a photo of a few of the inflatable pieces in the new Fun Zone playground near the outfield entrance to the ballpark:
The new team store also is scheduled to open Friday. Previously merchandise was sold from what amounted to several small booths located throughout the ballpark. Now the hub for sales of Silver Hawks-themed stuff will be inside a renovated synagogue famously known for getting hit with a Carlton Fisk home run when the Hall of Fame player rehabbed in South Bend in 1992.
This photo shows where the Fun Zone playground and the team store are located:
When I was given a tour of the renovations earlier this month, I was told that a pair of fire pits were to be installed near the entrance to the team store to make it a place where people can warm up during cold weather. I believe they basically will be smaller versions of the outfield fire pits at Dow Diamond, home of the Great Lakes Loons. (You can see a photo of one of the Dow Diamond fire pits in this post.)
That isn’t the only place to keep warm at The Cove. There are nice-looking space heaters (imported from Italy, I’m told) in the new outdoor suites along the concourse and in the new patio area in right field. It was nice to feel their warmth when I was in South Bend early this month, when the weather was still cold.
A more subtle change to The Cove is the new brick facade, which was installed during the offseason. It replaced a plain-looking facade.
Surely by no coincidence, the new facade matches the Union Station building across the street from the ballpark.
Just to the left of the “Where Everyone Comes to Play” sign is where the new splash pad area is located.
Another addition appears outside the ballpark on game days: a large inflatable Swoop (the Silver Hawks’ mascot) holding a “Game Today” sign.
To me, the large inflatable Swoop adds an old-school element to the place, giving it a true “minor league” feel. I mean that in a good way.
My only complaint about the new-look Cove is found in that same area: the used cars and trucks parked along the walkway leading to the outfield entrance. This also gives the place a “minor league” feel, but this time I mean it in a bad way.
Overall, I like what I saw at Coveleski Stadium, but more importantly, it seems the people of South Bend do, too. All reports indicate there is more of a buzz around the ballpark now than there has been in years — hopefully, for the sake of the Midwest League’s continued presence in South Bend, that will continue to be the case.