Having just finished a strong year at the box office, the Florida Gators could receive even stronger attendance numbers when they move into a new ballpark.
Earlier this year, the University of Florida unveiled plans for a new ballpark that will open in 2020. Planned as the replacement for McKethan Stadium at Perry Field, the new ballpark will offer modern amenities, including a 360-degree concourse and 5,000 fixed chairback seats with an overall capacity of roughly 10,000 when accounting for premium and non-traditional seating options.
The ballpark is currently expected to open in 2020, but Florida has experienced an attendance boost in the interim. For the 2018 season, the baseball program averaged a record 4,083 fans per game, marking an increase from 4,015 in 2017. Time will tell what the fan response to a new ballpark will be, but Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin believes that the upcoming facility will provide an improved game day experience. More from Gatorsports.com:
Stricklin said he expects some form of wireless connectivity throughout the ballpark. There will be premium areas where alcohol will be available for sale. SEC rules only allow venues to serve alcohol in premium seating areas.
The location of the new ballpark, off Hull Road adjacent to UF’s softball stadium, will be less central for students on campus. But Stricklin said he feels that the spot is ideal for all fans.
“We have huge crowds show up for softball games and that is right across the street and lacrosse and soccer play out there,” Stricklin said. “As far as the students, probably the nicest rec center on our campus (The Southwest Rec Center) is right there. In some ways, I think it may be easier for those off campus to get to, than the current setup. I think that’s a good location. Parking is something, we’re going to have parking spots, and obviously the Phillips Center parking garage is out there, within walking distance.”
Stricklin said the new ballpark also will be designed for a more intimate feel, with less foul territory and stands that will slope down to field level.
Construction on the new ballpark is expected to begin this fall. The Gators will return to McKethan Stadium in 2019 for what is expected to be their final season there.