Denver Baseball Sculpture Created by Lonnie Hanzon Misses Opening Day | Westword

Keep Your Eye on the Ball: Where Is Lonnie Hanzon's Coors Field Sculpture?

"The Evolution of the Ball" framed the west entrance to the ballpark on Opening Day in April 1995. But it was benched by the creation of McGregor Square.
"The Evolution of the Ball" in 1995, the year Coors Field opened.
"The Evolution of the Ball" in 1995, the year Coors Field opened. Lonnie Hanzon

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The Ballpark neighborhood was full of optimistic fans and high hopes on Opening Day for the Colorado Rockies, which even ended with a win. But one thing was missing from the scene: "The Evolution of the Ball," a mammoth sculpture created by artist Lonnie Hanzon that stood at the left-field entrance to Coors Field from 1995 until it disappeared during the construction of McGregor Square over two decades later.

The 32-by-42-foot sculpture, a $115,000 commission that was part of the public-art budget tied to the taxpayer-funded construction of Coors Field, was designed to frame the entrance. The ball-bedecked top drew the eye up to the angles of the ballpark and away from the caverns of 20th Street, Hanzon 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.

Which is what Hanzon felt he was behind when he saw that early schematics for what was known as the West Lot project didn't include "The Evolution of the Ball." Hanzon called foul and created a "Save 'The Evolution of the Ball'" Facebook page in 2018.

“One hundred and thirty people worked on that sculpture,” Hanzon recalled at the time. “It was my first public-art piece ever, my most inspired piece ever.” For a long time, it was also his most-loved — which is saying a lot, since Hanzon is responsible for popular projects ranging from the design of the Wizard's Chest to Camp Christmas.

McGregor Square, which opened in 2021, was built on land owned by the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District. The development was led by Dick Monfort, who co-owns the Colorado Rockies, and a group of investors. And according to project planners, the Denver Fire Department required that the Hanzon sculpture be moved from its place at the end of the walkway along Wynkoop Street for access reasons.

So Hanzon and his attorney started talking with representatives of both Monfort and the district six years ago, discussing possible places to relocate the piece, but they all were rejected by one side or another. Meanwhile, "The Evolution of the Ball" remains in storage.

But Hanzon hasn't let the ball drop, and recently met with Monfort himself to discuss options. "We're close to a respectable resolution," says the artist, who has continued to wear his trademark purple through negotiations.

In the meantime, Hanzon has his hands full converting his circa 2010 immersive exhibit, "Cabinet of Curiosities & Impossibilities," into a permanent installation at the Museum of Outdoor Arts' Marjorie Park by Fiddler's Green. It's slated for its public reveal on April 28.

Keep your eye on the ball!
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