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CHS Field becomes first minor league stadium to win architecture prize

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The new home of the St. Paul Saints has been winning hearts and acclaim from baseball fans and critics alike since opening last year – and now it's getting love from the American Institute of Architects.

CHS Field has become the first minor league ballpark to receive an AIA Institute Honor Award in the organization's 67-year history, the Saints announced on its website Friday.

The award is the AIA's highest recognition of works "that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design."

The stadium proved hugely popular in its first season of operation, with its picturesque and convenient location in St. Paul's Lowertown proving a hit with fans.

In July it was the finalist in Ballpark Digest's "Best of the Ballparks: Independent" competition, finishing second after losing out TD Bank Ballpark, home of the Somerset Patriots in New Jersey.

The 7,210-seat stadium is one of only 18 winners of the AIA honor after more than 500 submissions from across the globe, having been the work of Snow Kreilich Architects, Ryan Companies and AECOM.

"From the start, our hope was that the design would reflect and complement the architectural brilliance of our neighborhood," Saints Executive Vice President Tom Whaley said. "This award is a tribute to that hope. We still pinch ourselves every time we walk through the gates."

Some of the features the Saints note in the press release: the gradual move from urban landscape on the downtown side, to a more natural setting with a grass berm and picnic area backing onto the Bruce Vento Nature Preserve behind the ballpark.

The stadium's concourse meanwhile is 360 degrees, allowing fans to walk around the entire park and gets viewed of the nature preserve, as well as the bluffs of the Mississippi River and the St. Paul skyline.

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