The cold weather has slowed construction on the new $3.4 million ballpark at Southern Illinois University, with work delayed everywhere but the actual field installation.
SIU went with synthetic turf on the field — one of those inclusive installations that includes home plate — and that installation was done last fall, so in theory the team could begin playing at Richard “Itchy” Jones Stadium once protective bars are installed. (The season opener isn’t until Friday, Feb. 28.) But most of the rest of the ballpark is unfinished. From The Southern:
“Our biggest concern, and what we did between us, the campus, the architects and Fager-McGee, the general contractor was, we really made that baseball field the priority,” SIU associate athletic director Andy Pettit said. “Because if that wasn’t done right now we’d be in a mess. We wouldn’t have the field.”
Southern Illinois endured temperatures in the 50s and 60s right before Christmas, which allowed construction crews to get a lot of the framework for the new stadium in place.
The new press box, concession stand and restrooms have walls up but are not completely enclosed yet. The new in-ground dugouts have been constructed. Most of the new seating has also been constructed, Pettit said, with the next big milestone as the completion of the new concourse.
Itchy Jones Stadium replaces Abe Martin Field as the home of the Salukis.
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.