In 2018, there will be some notable ballpark openings within the minor league, independent, and collegiate ranks. While this year will not be as busy as 2019, which is slated to be marked by numerous facility openings across multiple levels of baseball, there is still a solid mix of ballparks debuting in 2018.
At the affiliated minor league level, the only new ballpark to debut will be SRP Park, the new home of the Augusta GreenJackets (Low A; Sally League). After spending years seeking a replacement for Lake Olmstead Stadium, the GreenJackets are anticipating a strong inaugural season at their new facility.
Located in North Augusta, SC, SRP Park is slated to be part of a larger mixed-use development known as Riverside Village that will include residences, retail, a hotel, and more. The GreenJackets will play their home opener there on April 12, but SRP Park will be the site of a college game between Clemson and Georgia on April 10.
In Rosemont, IL, the Chicago Dogs (independent; American Association) will make their debut at the brand-new Impact Field. As our own Kevin Reichard wrote after seeing the work in progress at the facility last fall, Impact Field will feature unique group spaces and offer a design that evokes reminders of a successful American Association facility—CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints. The Dogs’ first game at the new ballpark will be on May 25.
Before both of those ballparks open, there will be some interesting developments at the college level. Grand Canyon University is preparing to show off a massive overhaul to Brazell Stadium, which will now feature two levels of seating along with an enclosed press box with two broadcast booths, team store and concession space.
A similar project is being carried out at the University of Central Florida. For the 2018 season, the university will debut an expanded John Euliano Park. Formerly known as Jay Bergman Field, John Euliano Park will now feature a home plate tower that includes club seating, among other improvements. Both John Euliano Park and the renovated Brazell Stadium will debut on February 16, with UCF hosting Virginia and TCU visiting Grand Canyon for the beginning of a three-game series.
Also of note at the college level is Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field. The ballpark is in the midst of the multi-phase renovation, and some of its newly added features—including new lower bowl seating and Left Field Lounge boxes—will be ready for the 2018 season. The result of the renovation will not be fully realized until 2019, when the project is scheduled for completion, but the recent improvements will give fans a taste of what to expect when Dudy Noble Field’s overhaul is complete.
Come this time next year, there could be significant buzz about the multitude of new ballpark openings planned for 2019. Including but certainly not limited to the University of Kentucky’s new facility, a new Atlanta Braves’ spring training complex in North Port, FL, and new MiLB ballparks in Amarillo, Las Vegas, and Fayetteville, next year is slated to be a busy one as the sport prepares to open its new venues. While 2018 may seem modest by comparison, it still figures to be a strong year for ballpark debuts, and one that brings change to multiple levels of baseball.
Rendering courtesy SRP Park.
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