Trustees could vote this week to tweak the name of Arkansas baseball‘s Baum Stadium, which would become Baum-Walker Stadium to honor a lead donation.
Arkansas is planning a major improvement to Baum Stadium’s player facilities, as the university is slated to construct a new Baseball Performance Center beyond the right field wall. Estimated to cost as much as $25 million, the 40,000-square-foot space would be equipped with a new clubhouse, offices, workout areas, and other amenities.
The lead gift for that project is slated to come from the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, which has pledged $5 million. Pending approval from the University of Arkansas board of trustees, Baum Stadium will be renamed Baum-Walker Stadium in recognition of that contribution. The board’s vote is slated for Thursday. More from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
Baum Stadium opened in 1996 and was named for the family of Charlie Baum, who gave a series of lead financial contributions in the early ’90s that totaled $1 million toward the stadium’s construction.
The Walker family also donated $1 million toward construction, and a lounge in the suite level of the stadium was named for Johnny Mike Walker, the son of the late Willard and Pat Walker and a letterman on the Arkansas baseball team in 1975. The Walker Foundation also contributed to a 2004 renovation of the stadium.
In part because of several renovations, the stadium was ranked the No. 1 college ballpark in the U.S. last year by Baseball America. It also typically ranks among the top four college baseball venues each year in attendance.
“They have given us so much,” former Arkansas baseball coach Norm DeBriyn said of the Walkers on Friday during a speech at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame induction for current baseball Coach Dave Van Horn. “… If it wasn’t for Johnny Mike Walker, we wouldn’t have Baum Stadium.”
Arkansas previously dedicated the facility’s playing surface in honor of former athletic director George Cole, meaning that if the proposed name change is approved the venue will be formally known as Baum-Walker Stadium at George Cole Field. The upcoming Baseball Performance Center is slated to completed in 2021.