Art News

Outside Coors Field, Win-Win in the Works for "Evolution of the Ball"

The season isn't over, but construction has already begun.
The season isn't over, but construction has already begun. Kenzie Bruce
The Rockies' place in the post-season playoffs isn't the only win at Coors Field.

It looks like there's a solution in the works for "The Evolution of the Ball," the iconic Lonnie Hanzon sculpture that has graced the Wynkoop Street walkway into Coors Field since the ballpark opened in 1995.

Of course, much of that walkway leading to the sculpture (see above) is no longer there. The Colorado Rockies company is developing West Lot, the block between 18th and 19th and Wynkoop and Wazee streets that was once a parking lot. Even before the season ended, construction on the towering project began last week, when the property was closed and the pavement pulled up. That wasn't all that was pulled up: The bricks that baseball fans bought to help build the ballpark are also gone, but they haven't been forgotten: They've been stored and will be reinstalled along 20th Street.

Initially, that's where the Rockies also wanted to move "The Evolution of the Ball," but creator Hanzon had significant problems with the spot: His piece, a $115,000 commission, had been designed to frame the entrance to Coors Field, and this spot not only changed its direction, but was too small for the 32-by-42-foot sculpture. When he got wind of the plan, Hanzon called foul, and created a Save "The Evolution of the Ball" Facebook page.

“One hundred and thirty people worked on that sculpture,” Hanzon told me this summer. “It was my first public art piece ever, my most inspired piece ever.” It's also his most-loved (which is saying a lot, since Hanzon is responsible for projects ranging from the design of the Wizard's Chest to the Houston Zoo Lights). The ball-bedecked top was designed to draw the eye up to the angles of Coors Field and away from the caverns of 20th Street, he explained; the support columns consisted of 108 glazed, three-dimensional tiles depicting balls of every type, from oddball to eyeball to wrecking ball to debutante ball to eight-ball.

Design for the West Lot released lst fall.
A public outcry over plans for the piece put the Rockies behind the eight-ball, and options for the sculpture became the subject of discussions with the Rockies, the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District, neighborhood groups, the city and Hanzon, culminating with another meeting by the actual piece this week. As a result, they've all "come to a conceptional solution to save 'The Evolution of the Ball,'" says Hanzon.

click to enlarge
The West Lot today.
Kenzie Bruce
Matt Sugar, spokesman for the stadium district, which actually owns the lot and has leased it to the Rockies for the project (the district also technically owns "The Evolution of the Ball"), agrees. "We have made some progress towards a mutually agreeable solution," he writes in an email. "We have lots of details to work out but today was a very positive step in the right direction." 

And while the bricks are on the move, they'll find a home, too. "They have been photographed, carefully removed and stored while construction of the West Lot moves forward," Sugar adds. "They will be relocated in the exact order on the other side of 20th adjacent to the Home Plate entrance prior to opening day next season."

Sounds like a win-win. Now, can we just have a few more Rockies wins in the actual ballpark?
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun