University of Florida unveils plans for new ballpark
The University of Florida Athletic Department announced significant facility plans Friday and the Florida baseball program will be getting a new home.
The plans outlined include program-changing upgrades to its current softball stadium, a new baseball ballpark on the southwest part of campus and a new stand-alone football training complex in the location of the current baseball stadium. These projects, which combined are estimated to cost US$130m, are part of phases 2 and 3 of the University Athletic Association’s Facilities Master Plan.
Original facility plans called for the UAA to renovate the baseball stadium and build a football training complex north of the Percy Beard Track, but after an extensive review with contractors and architects, it was determined that building a new baseball ballpark and locating the football training complex on the current baseball stadium site is a better long-term solution for the athletic program.
Athletics Director, Scott Stricklin, said:
We want to invest wisely in our infrastructure to enhance our student-athlete and fan experiences. And we want to make sure that we are making the best long-term decisions to create championship experiences with integrity for all of those that touch our programs. Our athletic department is consistently among the top five in the nation, and it is our intent that all three of these facilities mirror that.
With the change in facility locations for both baseball and football, we will now adjust the sequencing for these projects. Baseball will need to be built first, which will allow us to repurpose the current baseball site and put the stand-alone football complex in that space.
Construction for the estimated US$50m baseball ballpark, with an overall capacity of 10,000, will begin in the autumn/fall of 2018 with a completion goal prior to the 2020 season. Home plate will face northeast with the sun behind the stadium for a cooler atmosphere for the student-athletes and fans. A 360-degree open concourse will give fans constant field views and multiple seating options will be under shade.
Permanent chairback seats will increase from 2,408 to approximately 5,000, while fans will also be able to choose from premium seating and non-traditional seating options to bring overall capacity to approximately 10,000. Enhanced concession space with new food options will also be available for fans, while student-athletes and staff will enjoy modern amenities and increased spaces.
Florida’s new baseball ballpark will be located on Hull Road, near the Donald R. Dizney Stadium and Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium on the southwest part of campus.
Coach Kevin O’Sullivan, said:
We are really excited about this project. Once it is completed, our student-athletes and staff will have first-class facilities that rival any program in the country. In addition, the new stadium will be much more suited to provide an outstanding experience for our fans. The administration has some unique ideas to ensure that the fan experience will be like nowhere else.
The baseball stadium will utilise 13.63 acres of land previously occupied by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF/IFAS).
The UAA will contribute US$3m to UF/IFAS, which will then invest these funds in redeveloping research and instructional facilities to benefit College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students in horticultural sciences, plant pathology, environmental horticulture and agronomy programs. Activities previously located on this property will continue in a different campus location nearby.
Jack M. Payne, UF Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources, said:
This is a win-win for UF/IFAS, our students, faculty and the university community. Teaching and research activities will continue and students will continue to learn in facilities and agricultural sites appropriate to the level of a top 10 public university.
We are fortunate to have a great partnership on campus between academics and athletics. Collaboration with a focus on excellence enables the University of Florida to be a top 10 program academically and one of the premier athletic departments in the nation.
Phases 2 and 3 of our Facilities Master Plan will greatly improve efficiencies and operations in softball, baseball and football. We’ve all seen the impact that Phase 1 made with the Indoor Practice Facility, Otis Hawkins Academic Center at Farrior Hall and the renovation of Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and we expect the same in these phases. We are very thankful for the support of our donors during Phase 1 and I am enthusiastic about the momentum from Gator Boosters moving into phases 2 and 3.
The projects will be funded through private gifts, bond proceeds and UAA investment earnings, with no state or university funding. The University of Florida Board of Trustees approved Friday a bond resolution for US$50m for Phase 2 of the UAA’s Facilities Master Plan.
Per state of Florida debt management guidelines, the Board of Governors still has to approve the bond resolution at the end of June.
The UAA has made significant progress to date and already identified funding for US$73m of the US$130m needed for the three projects (including $50m in bonds, $13m in philanthropic support and $10m in UAA investment earnings). The remaining funds needed will be dependent upon the generosity of the Gator Nation as Scott Stricklin and the Gator Boosters staff continue to involve key constituents to support these important initiatives.
The full Facilities Master Plan, which will significantly impact the experience for all Gator student athletes in all 21 programs, as well as the fan experience in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, will be announced at a later date.
Information on Baseball Ballpark:
- Estimated Timeline: Construction Start: Autumn/Fall 2018
- Goal for completion: Prior to the 2020 Season
- Estimated Budget: US$50m
- Funding: Philanthropic Support, Bond Proceeds, UAA Investment Earnings
- Partners: Architects and Engineering – Populous and Walker Architects; Construction Manager – TBA
- Field Orientation: Home plate will face northeast and the sun will now be behind the stadium to make for a cooler atmosphere for the student-athletes and fans.
- 360 Degree Open Concourse & Seating: The concourse will be connected across the entire stadium with open views to the field, as seen in Omaha, Nebraska, at TD Ameritrade, as well as at many Major League Ballparks
- Shade Structures for Fans: Multiple sections of seats will be shaded from the sun to make for a more comfortable environment for fans
- Modern Student-Athlete and Staff Amenities: Amenities include a locker room, player’s lounge, training room, batting cages, practice field, etc.
- Coaches Offices, Video Editing Room, Training Room with Hydrotherapy, Equipment Room, Locker Room and Player’s Lounge
- Increased Capacity: All permanent seats will feature chairbacks (no bleachers), and there will be multiple premium seating options along with grass berms and non-traditional seating that will bring capacity to an estimated 10,000. Chairback seating options will increase from 2,408 to approximately 5,000.
- Multiple Seating & Game Experience Options: Fans will have the ability to purchase chairbacks, a variety of premium seating options, club lounge tickets and family zone seating.
- Parking: On- site parking for approximately 400-500 vehicles, along with moped parking.
- High Definition Video and Sound: Florida’s new baseball stadium will be equipped with a state-of-the-art video board and sound system.
- Enhanced Concession Space and Food Options: Concession stands and food trucks will provide a wide array of food options.
- Enhanced Fan Experience: All the aforementioned amenities above will make for a much better fan experience for Gator Nation, including an area to focus on activities for children and young fans.
- Prominent and welcoming entrances: Florida’s new baseball stadium will feature prominent and inviting entrances, including some key areas that will highlight program accomplishments including championships and Gator greats.