The Florida Gators could open a new ballpark in the coming years, as University of Florida officials are looking to move forward with the project.
Seeking to improve its offerings for baseball, the University of Florida is considering a new ballpark that would replace McKethan Stadium at Perry Field. Under the current timeline, construction on the new facility could begin as early as September, allowing it to open in time for the 2020 season. The ballpark would offer some fan amenities found at more modern college baseball facilities, including a wraparound concourse and premium seating.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin discussed the funding of the proposal on Thursday, when it was approved by the university Board of Trustees’ Finance and Facilities Committee. More from WUFT.org:
The proposal asks for permission from the Board of Trustees for the University Athletic Association to spend $50 million for a new ballpark. If approved, construction will begin in September in a space of land next to the current lacrosse and softball complexes. It would open in January 2020 and have a “useful life” of 30 years, according to the UAA.
Stricklin said the goal is to increase attendance through a better overall facility. The new park would offer fans more shade, a grass berm, multiple nearby parking lots, luxury seating, and a wraparound concourse, all of which could push the park’s capacity toward 10,000. McKethan Stadium, the team’s current park, opened in 1988 and has a capacity of 5,500.
If Florida does move forward with a new ballpark, the 2019 season and beyond will see some interesting developments across the college baseball facility landscape. The University of Mississippi is expected to complete renovations to Dudy Noble Field next year, while the University of Kentucky is planning to open a new ballpark. Though a more formal announcement from the university awaits, it appears that Oklahoma State is making progress toward the opening of a new baseball facility in the coming years.
Update: Plans for a new ballpark were announced Friday, after the Board of Trustees approved a $50-million bond resolution for Phase 2 of an athletic facilities plan. According to a university announcement, the new baseball facility will offer 5,000 fixed chairback seats with an overall capacity of roughly 10,000 when accounting for premium and non-traditional seating options. Florida will open the new ballpark in 2020 and, as part of a broader facilities plan, anticipates the eventual construction of a football training facility on the current site of McKethan Stadium. The Board of Governors will have to sign off on the bond resolution at the end of June. Renderings released by the university have been added to this story.