The 2020 college baseball season is just around the corner and will feature the debut of several new or extensively renovated ballparks.
There are currently a few college facility developments taking shape, with two notable Division I programs opening new ballparks. Along with that, the 2020 season will see Boise State’s baseball program take the field for the first time in decades after being revived by the university, with the team playing at Memorial Stadium while a new on-campus ballpark is planned. In addition, the University of Portland will roll out the latest upgrades to its long-time home. To keep of track of the biggest dates when it comes to college ballpark openings, we present the dates to watch in the 2020 college baseball season.
The most notable baseball facility project throughout the NCAA for 2020 is O’Brate Stadium, the new ballpark being constructed by Oklahoma State University. Planned as the replacement to Allie P. Reynolds Stadium—the baseball program’s home since 1981—O’Brate Stadium will make its debut on March 20, when OSU squares off against TCU.
O’Brate Stadium’s features should reflect the latest in both fan and student-athlete amenities. According to information released by OSU in October, the ballpark will offer 3,500 fixed seats, along with 11 suites and 400 premium seats in dedicated club and suite areas. For the baseball program, the O’Brate Stadium complex will feature a space dubbed by OSU as a “training triangle.” This area will offer an indoor facility, a pitching lab and an artificial turf infield that allows for practices to take place year-round regardless of the weather, helping to minimize wear and tear on the ballpark’s natural grass surface. Plans also call for a 7,400-square-foot clubhouse and player lounge, along with a nutrition center and a tiered-seating classroom. Another amenity is an operations center that will include a sports medicine area, additional training space, and a baseball-specific laundry center and equipment room.
The timing of O’Brate Stadium’s opening means that OSU will begin its home schedule with 14 games at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. When OSU announced O’Brate Stadium’s opening date, it stated that there would not be a closing ceremony for Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in 2020, as the baseball program celebrated its legacy last season.
Another notable baseball facility project in the works comes from UConn, which is scheduled to open the new Elliot Ballpark with a game against Seton Hall on March 29. Elliot Ballpark is a 1,500-seat facility that will be equipped with an artificial turf surface, along with a slate of amenities that includes a videoboard and suites. The ballpark will be located across Jim Calhoun Way from J.O. Christian Field, the baseball program’s home through last season.
The 2020 season should also yield a significantly upgraded baseball facility at the University of Portland, which is undertaking an extensive round of renovations to Joe Etzel Field. According to a new announcement, Portland will begin its home schedule by using a variety of facilities in the greater Portland area and Southwest Washington before returning to an unfinished Joe Etzel Field in April. Initial games at Joe Etzel Field will offer only grass berm seating, with the official opening of the renovated ballpark expected to occur as part of a May 15-17 series against Saint Mary’s.
Ongoing construction at Joe Etzel Field will address a variety of amenities, including the grandstand, dugouts, press box, and more. The ballpark was originally completed prior to the 1988 season but has been overhauled drastically over the years through various expansions and renovations, while previous changes to the playing conditions include the installation of synthetic turf and new lighting.
Although it is not opening a new facility this season, the fact that Boise State will field a varsity baseball program for the first time since 1980 is notable. Boise State baseball will begin its schedule with a three-game series at the University of Texas starting on February 21, before returning home on February 28 to host Northern Colorado at Memorial Stadium—which is primarily the home of Minor League Baseball’s Boise Hawks (Short Season A; Northwest League). The goal for Boise State is to open a new on-campus ballpark in future seasons.
Renderings courtesy universities.
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