The players have all packed up and returned home for the off-season. Road construction season is winding down with the coming freeze, but that never stops the West Michigan Whitecaps, because construction season at Fifth Third Ballpark is just beginning.

The Whitecaps have three construction projects lined up for the off-season, all to be completed before the first pitch of the 2017 season begins next April 6: a new warning track, a new third base hospitality area, and an expanded playground. Cool.

Construction on the warning track is scheduled to begin this week. The color of the warning track will be a darker red clay than the previous mixture.

The new hospitality area will be located in the third base side lower lawn area. The lower hill next to the field will be converted into a 3,000 square foot hospitality area with a seating capacity of 120. Similar to last year’s expansion of the General RV Campground into the steep, unused lower lawn area on the first baseline, the new space will feature a unique view of the game from directly behind the visitor’s bullpen.

There will be three types of seating, including padded chairs up front with a food and drink rail along the fence, patio tables and chairs, and cushioned chairs.

The good news for kids is a greatly expanded Meijer Hometown Playground. Located in the existing space beyond the right field corner, the playground will more than double its current size of 2,500 square feet to 6,400 square feet. There will be a new play structure, new inflatables and lots more fun for kids.

The 2017 season opens at home on Thursday, April 6 at 6:35 p.m. against the South Bend Cubs. Season tickets and mini plans are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the Whitecaps at 616-784-4131. Tickets for groups of 20 or more, including private party areas, will go on sale November 18. More information, including the full 2017 schedule, is available at