History at our feet

Posted: July 3rd, 2015 | Art on the Land, Columnists, Featured | No Comments

By Delle Willett | Art on the Land

San Diego’s Lane Field Park, created by Denver’s urban design and landscape architecture firm Civitas, is on the former site of Lane Field baseball stadium, home to the then-Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres from 1936 – 1957 — history that played an integral role in the design.

Located on 1.6 acres at the northeast corner of North Harbor Drive and West Broadway, the new $5-million park was donated by LFN Developers, who are building a 400-room, dual-branded Marriott hotel scheduled to open next year to the east.

Lane Field Park looking southeast DWweb

The southeast view from the middle of Lane Field (Photo by Delle Willett)

“Design ideas for Lane Field Park were immersed in the site’s history,” said Scott Jordan, Civitas designer for the new park. “Inspiration came from the original base paths, pitcher’s mound and home plate. Where home-plate once existed, a granite marker was placed with the silhouette and a quote from Ted Williams, who began his Hall-of-Fame career on this field, while the base paths are lit up with in-ground LEDs.”

Those baseball references are historically accurate right down to commemorating a mistake.

Land Field Park Home Plate marker DWweb

Marker identifies original home plate location
(Photo by Delle Willett)

“The original stadium had first base in the wrong location — we designed it to capture this inaccuracy as a way to encapsulate the unique spirit of the historical park,” Jordan said.

Hailed as a “home run” in San Diego, the new park is part of a private hotel and mixed-use development that represents a 150-foot-wide setback of open space required by the California Coastal Commission for approval of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan.

Lane Field Park is visually tied to the Port of San Diego’s massive North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, which includes the Civitas-designed grand esplanade that opened in November 2014 just across Harbor Drive. [See Feb. 6 issue of San Diego Downtown News, Vol. 16, Issue 2, “Talent and teamwork transforms the Embarcadero” for more information].

Visual links to the water’s-edge esplanade include the palm trees, planting and paving patterns and site furnishings. To fit the new park’s more relaxed vibe, Civitas also created custom designed “chaise lounge” benches made of ipe wood and stainless steel.

Lane Field Park has a flexible lawn space that can be used in very different ways than the North Embarcadero. You can throw a Frisbee, play catch, or sit back and relax on the open lawn or on one of the benches and watch the sun set over the bay.

Custom-designed “chaise lounge” benches made of Ipe wood and stainless steel DWweb

Custom chaise lounges. (Photo by Delle Willett)

Only the first phase of the park has been completed. Another section to the north is planned if the port can relocate parking spaces used by the Navy Facilities Engineering Command at 1220 Pacific Highway.

In 1925, before it was called Lane Field, the stadium began as a U.S. Navy athletic field. Football bleachers were added two years later. There was also a motorcycle and auto racetrack.

When Bill “Hardpan” Lane relocated his Hollywood Stars baseball team from the Los Angeles area in 1936, he arranged for the Works Progress Administration to rebuild the venue as a baseball park.

The new construction was minimal with no roof, no lights, and not even a backstop, and seating for 8,000 fans.

The first Padres game at Lane Field was played on March 31, 1936. They finally abandoned the field following the 1957 PCL season. In 1958, the team shifted to the new Westgate Park, located in San Diego’s Mission Valley area.

To learn more about the history of Lane Field and the development of Lane Field Park, visit

—Delle Willett has been a marketing and public relations professional for over 30 years, with an emphasis on conservation of the environment. She can be reached at

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