By David Hurtado
Students driving by the College Boulevard entrance to the college may have noticed the gradual demolition of the old baseball field and subsequent rise of the new one.
The field, located on the north side of the GYM, began renovations last September and is expected to be completed by Friday, Feb. 1. The total cost came out to $1,613,596, with $249,735 going toward new lighting and $1,363,861 set aside for the field itself. Brown Midwest was the general contractor hired for the job.
Rex Hays, executive director of campus services, said the college decided to renovate the field due to maintenance needs and to attract more potential recruits for the sports program. Hays said the field had not been updated for at least 20 years and was suffering from drainage issues and a great amount of slope in the outfield.
“For our athletic program, we needed to be able to compete in terms of recruiting with some of the other colleges around,” Hays said. “To give you an example, all the high schools have turf fields. So a lot of the high schools that the recruits play on are coming off better fields at their high school versus what they were here at the college.”
Gabe Brown, owner of Brown Midwest, said the company demolished the entire field, doing away with everything that was there and leaving only the scoreboard intact. The company added a new fence, dugouts, turf, benches, storage racks and lighting. They also regraded, or leveled, portions of the outfield where the land was sloping.
Brown said the biggest advantages turf had over grass were maintenance costs and downtime.
“There’s no maintenance. You never have to mow it again. The lines are already in the turf, so you don’t have to reset the lines every time you play and they don’t wash away,” he said. “You can play on the field within 30 minutes of a heavy rainstorm because the field drains itself. Those are the primary advantages.”
According to Brown, it generally takes about six months to renovate a baseball field. He said the college’s took about five months to complete.
Carl Heinrich, director, Athletics, said the new field will allow for easier time management for student athletes.
“You can get 15 inches of rain and 20 minutes after it stops raining, you can be on [the turf field],” Heinrich said. “With a typical field, you can’t do that. [Student athletes] will be able to practice at a certain time of day that typically in the past, if it’s rained and it’s muddy, they haven’t been able to practice at that time and might have to practice later. It’s going to give to them a consistency in their time management.”
Heinrich added other sports facilities on campus were in need of renovations also, including the GYM floor and the soccer field.
Kent Shelley, head baseball coach, said he believes the renovations will greatly aid the college in terms of recruitment and the quality of the sports program.
“The past year or two, we have lost some top tier prospects to other programs which have improved their facilities to the point where we could not compete,” Shelley said.
He said this gives us the best facility in the Jayhawk Conference and one of the best in the country.
“So now we’re going to be able to go into the homes of those top tier student athletes and be able to look them in the eye and tell them that they’re going to be coming to one of the top ten community colleges in the country and playing in one of the top five baseball facilities in the country,” Shelley said.
Contact David Hurtado, staff reporter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.