Iowa Cubs General Manager Sam Bernabe is celebrating 40 years with the Iowa Cubs this year in a big way. Principal Park will soon begin a $65 Million renovation, with the goal of becoming an entertainment district resembling Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field, or Ballpark Village at Busch Stadium. Will downtown Des Moines soon connect to a “Cubbie Village?”
Renovations for Principal Park
Principal Park’s renovations start with $10 million renovation for locker rooms and improved training facilities, under guidance from MLB—this isn’t new. Originally released in 2021, the five-phase plan calls for a new main entry, parking garage, suites, play area with water features and public art. But the future plans go far beyond.
Back when Bernabe started, the team had around 5 staff per team, but today that number has more than doubled. Today, teams have nutritionists, weight trainers, more coaches, and medical staff. More space is needed to accommodate medical, training, and nutrition areas for player food prep.
The league also has changed because there are more females in the sport than their used to be. There’s a new female umpire, female hitting coach, and female nutritions. Currently they have one female locker room, and will need to expand into more.
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Is “Cubbie Village” on the horizon?
Bernabe also discussed the new master plan the city approved and what their future goals are. The master plan approved last year will add water features and more lighting features, but the future plans go well beyond that.
Bernabe says the future vision includes an entertainment district surrounding the ballpark with music areas, downtown movie nights, playground equipment for people that live downtown, and more. Ideally the park will be a year round entertainment district resembling Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field and Ballpark Village at Busch.
History of the Iowa Cubs
Bernabe discusses the fascinating history of the Iowa Cubs, including his first job at the park: washing toilets and making hot dogs! Bernabe started 40 years ago this year as an intern right out of college. At that time, there was only a handfull of staff for the entire park. My how things have changed!
He recounts Iowa Cubs history, and explains the fascinating sequence of events that allowed the team to continue playing despite the flood of 93. He wasn’t happy about it at the time, but later he realize a big obstacle was a big relief.
Fun fact, did you know how plate hasn’t moved for a long time? Can you guess how long?