Jim Spavins Track Plan Logo
Stadium Central Track Plan.

Stadium Central

Combining Railroads and Baseball

Track Plan At A Glance

Layout Theme: Baseball Stadium
Layout Type: Portable Layout
Size: 7.5'x7.5'
Scale: O Scale
Era: 2000s
Track: Code 148
Turnouts: N/A
Min. Radius: 36"

Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: October 4, 2016

Just like last year, this month will be Round and Round October - a series of four portable model railroads simply designed for trains to go unapologetically around in circles. These plans are focused on building display layouts to go to train shows and feature highly detailed scenes.  Operations is a secondary priority.

October is here and with it one of my favorite times of the year - the baseball postseason. Outside of railroading, my other passion is baseball. Often times, I have been able to combine these interests by taking a train to go watch baseball games (Read the Baseball in Paradise essay here). However, one of the projects I have wanted to do for a long time was to build a layout which featured baseball in some form. The idea which has come to mind most often is building a model of a baseball stadium. However, a replica of even a small minor league stadium would take up a large footprint and, most likely, cost thousands of dollars and take thousands of hours just to add figures. Both of these are deal breakers for me.

A few years ago, I was sketching out ideas for an O scale circle layout which would fit on top of four 30"x48" module sections which we were constructing as part of a large group module build at the time. The layout footprint could handle a loop of track using the 36" radius Atlas O 2-rail sectional track sections and still have lots of room for scenery and structures. I kept sketching different ideas and themes but nothing seemed to be working.

Petco Park San Diego CA 2012

The San Diego Trolley passes by Petco Park. | Photo by Jim Spavins.

Around this same time, I happened upon an article about people building backyard Wiffle Ball stadiums. After looking at the much compressed dimensions of these stadiums, I realized I could fit a model of one in O scale on the layout to scale. In general, the dimensions of the field are around 90' to 100' from home plate to the outfield wall - which translates to roughly 2' in O scale. After a little work in CAD and creating a rough cardboard mockup, I realized I could fit the stadium into the 7.5'x7.5' layout. Unlike a true baseball stadium, there would probably only be around a hundred or so figures - making the investment in both time and money a little more palatable. Plus, the size of O scale would allow the details to tell the story of the stadium and make them easier to both build and see.

Around the Railroad

The layout is split in half - one side of the layout is a town scene with a train station and small commercial district. Two scenic areas - one river with a bridge and another marsh area - separate the Wiffle Ball stadium from the town scene. There is a train station located adjacent to the stadium which, in theory, allows passengers to travel from the downtown area to the game by train.

Since the idea with these round and round circle layouts is to focus on building and detailing, this layout offers lots of those opportunities. The small commercial district would feature a number of small shops which could be lighted and interior details completed. The stadium area, of course, has lots of interesting components. A pedestrian overpass connects the station and stadium which includes a winding stair case and an elevator. The stadium includes a small vendor area, a large scoreboard, and light towers. All of these add some large vertical elements to the scene.

Most likely, a short freight train or passenger train would be built to circle the layout. A small switcher and 40' length cars would fit the best. Given that there is no switching on the layout, a simple DC controller would be all that is needed to power the trains circling the layout. Arduinos could control all the lighting accessories - and even a station stop circuit for the trains - which will help the layout come to life.

The railroad is designed to be portable - with each of the 30"x48" sections to be built like modules. Each section would have folding legs and electrical harnesses which would make setup and takedown of the layout easier if it was to be used at train shows. Good quality materials - like cabinet grade plywood - would help make the layout last longer and survive the rigors of the road.

Prototype Resources

For Track Plan Tuesday's, I am digitizing all of my old track planning notebooks and sharing the designs here on the website.  To see all the plans, visit the track plan home page at: jimspavins.com/jimstrackplans.