This should be a banner year for ballpark openings, and the unveilings began last weekend with the opening of Florida Ballpark at Alfred A. McKethan Field, home of the University of Florida Gators.
The $65-million facility, replacing Alfred A. McKethan Field on the UF campus and designed by Populous, was designed to please both fans and players with game-day amenities like plenty of shade and a 360-degree concourse and expanded workout facilities. UF was cleared to host a limited number of fans at the ballpark with plenty of social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation, with baseball returning to campus for the first time in a year. Our Jarah Wright previewed the facility last September, and local reaction to the ballpark opening was positive. From the Independent Florida Alligator:
A white awning shades all the seats in the new park, which now all have backs to them. The old bleacher seating from Alfred A. McKethan stadium, the Gators former home since 1988, is now only a memory. There’s also Dizney Grove, a stretch of grass beyond the outfield adorned with pairs of bright-orange and deep-blue lawn chairs.
The pride of the new stadium, however, is the 360-degree concourse. Fans can take a lap around the entirety of the stadium and never lose sight of the action due to the open walls, grass berms and outfield fencing.
Whether along a baseline, directly behind home plate or standing past center field, no one is in danger of missing a pitch.
This looks to be a good year for college baseball facilities, and we’ll be covering openings in coming weeks, as well as visiting Florida Ballpark during a spring-training trip.
Photo courtesy Brasfield & Gorrie.
RELATED STORIES: Ballpark Preview: Florida Ballpark at Alfred A. McKethan Field; Ground Broken on New Florida Ballpark; New Florida Gators’ Ballpark to Open 2021; After Strong 2018, Florida Looks Forward to New Ballpark; Florida Gators Make Case for New Ballpark; Details Emerge on Proposed University of Florida Ballpark; Gators Eye Upgrades to Baseball, Softball Facilities