Sandgnats Announce Stadium Expansion Project

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Updated: September 11, 2017

CRYSTAL LAKE HERALD

SPORTS – GNATS NOW
Sandgnats Announce Stadium Expansion Project
Updated: January 11, 2026 – 10:58PM CDT

By Howard Heskin, Staff Writer – Twitter @HowardHeskin1

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The Sandgnats have announced that Ellison Field at Dole Park will be expanding for the 2026 season from 50,000 to 60,000 seats. The south end bowl of Ellison Field was constructed in 2006, and has not been measurably updated to improve the fan experience, showing signs of deterioration and settlement. The proposed project will build a new three-story building and grandstands at the south end of Ellison Field comprising approximately 191,059 gross square feet (GSF) of construction with enclosed space of approximately 141,065 GSF. The new seating will remove general admission seats and replace with sixteen suites and associated support spaces, approximately 1,500 premium seats and 1,300 new outdoor general admission seats, resulting in increased net revenues associated with the new seating and premium amenities. The additional seating will be placed above the luxury area and be named the Gnats Gnest.

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Additionally, Right around the outfield will be the “halo board,” which has 3,200 lineal feet of ribbon board. It towers over the field, providing 63,000-square feet of screen, and if you stretched it out, it’d be longer than the Eiffel Tower. There’s a “mega-column” that’s wrapped in an LED screen on three sides, too.

Also, There are 15 local food options along with 1,264 beer taps in the stadium, so don’t worry about having a lack of variety. There are also 12 different “neighborhood bars” in the stadium and other fan-first areas, and that’s not all.

It has 4,000 miles of optic fiber, powering everything at the speed of light. In addition to free, fast WiFi throughout, the building has over 2,500 TVs, so fans won’t miss a second.

“We’ve got 1,800 wireless access points in the building,” Owner Sydney C. Dole said. “So there’s 1,000 of them in the seating bowl and another 800 in the concourses, so no matter where you are in this building, 60-some-thousand fans will have fast, wireless connectivity. And then whether you’re on WiFi or your on your cell phone with cellular service, we’ll have a distributed antenna system that’s throughout the building, that’ll give you great service through various carriers.”

Its 4,000 solar panels can generate enough solar energy on its campus in a year to power all home games. The stadium will also reuse rain water that the stadium collects. “We’ll use about 47 percent less water, through our design of the building and our capture and re-use of rain water,” Dole said. “So the rain water that hits the site, will be stored in a 680,000-gallon cistern, and we’ll use that water for make-up water for our cooling tank and to irrigate the landscaping. This should save us a ton of money over the long haul! Plus the additional capacity should increase profits handsomely for the Dole Family.”