The University of Kentucky released more details Monday about the construction of a new baseball stadium on campus, a $49 million project that should have the Wildcats playing in a new home by the 2019 season.
A new baseball stadium at UK has been talked about for years as the Cats’ facilities have lagged behind other programs in the Southeastern Conference, which has six of the nation’s top 10 college baseball parks, according to a recent survey by D1Baseball.com.
Here’s a quick look at the baseball facilities at the SEC’s other 13 schools:
The stadium — which had a capacity of 2,000 when it opened nearly 70 years ago — underwent major renovations in 1996, 2001 and 2010 before a complete overhaul forced the Crimson Tide to relocate for the 2015 season. That most recent renovation, completed in time for the 2016 season, cost $42.5 million and included a new indoor hitting facility, fan suites, player lounge and locker room.
The stadium cost $8.9 million to build 20 years ago but has gone through several renovations since to include more seats, coaches’ offices and a new playing surface. In 2016, Baum Stadium became home to the largest video board in college baseball — a 25-by-71 foot LED screen in center field — at a cost of $1.1 million.
The stadium received $4.2 million worth of renovations in 1996, another $2.3 million in renovations in 2001 and was named the best college ballpark in the country by Baseball America in 2003. There were several other renovation projects in the 1990s and 2000s, and the school announced plans last month for a new video board (24-by-62 feet), stadium sound system and chair-back seating that is expected to be ready in time for the 2017 season. An Auburn spokesman said Monday that there is no estimated price tag on those renovations yet.
A project completed in 2006 included $13 million in renovations to McKethan Stadium and the nearby Lemerand Athletic Center. The stadium also got a new video board in 2012. A proposal released last month calls for more than $100 million in department-wide upgrades that would include shade structuring at McKethan Stadium, as well as expanded locker rooms and 400 new club seats.
The stadium underwent a major renovation in 1990 — at the cost of $3.5 million — and another project before the 2011 season provided chair-back seating for the entire park. A new playing surface and drainage system was also installed in 2003. Another $12 million in renovations were completed last year and included improvements to several aspects of the stadium.
Alex Box Stadium
The stadium had an initial cost of $37.8 million before going through a set of renovations in 2010 and 2012 to add more seating. Last month, D1Baseball.com named “The Box” the best college ballpark in the country.
Twenty years after it opened — with a $3.75 million price tag — Swayze Field went through a major, $18 million renovation in 2009. Six years before that, the stadium got a new 6,800-square-foot indoor hitting facility. This year, Ole Miss announced $13 million in further upgrades, including a “baseball performance center” featuring a new clubhouse, weight room, indoor hitting and pitching facilities and a players’ lounge. The latest project is expected to be completed by the start of the 2018 season and will increase stadium capacity to 10,715.
Dudy Noble Field
The stadium — which has 7,600 seats — went through $3.5 million of renovations in the late 1980s, several renovations throughout the 1990s and about $2 million in renovations over the past few years. This year, the school announced plans for a new video board that will measure 43-by-60 feet and replace Arkansas’ screen as the largest in college baseball. That project is the first step in a proposed $55 million of renovations.
The stadium cost $2.1 to build — back when Missouri was playing in the Big 12 — and went through $4.5 million worth of upgrades, including a new clubhouse, a few years ago. There has been talk of a new baseball stadium in Columbia, but there has been no formal proposal, and Tigers Athletics Director Mack Rhoades estimated this year that such a project would cost $35-45 million.
Often listed among the best stadiums in college baseball, Founders Park opened with a price tag of $35 million and is expected to undergo another $1 million in upgrades, which will include a new players’ lounge, before the 2017 season.
Lindsey Nelson Stadium
Built for $2.2 million more than 20 years ago, Lindsey Nelson Stadium went through millions of dollars in renovations several years ago that included a new locker room, weight room, training room and expanded seating for fans.
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park
The stadium went through a $24 million renovation before the 2012 season — $7 million of which came from Blue Bell Creameries — that included a new club lounge and several additions for players and coaches. A new video board — measuring 27-by-49 feet — was added before the 2014 season and was the largest in the SEC at that time.
The stadium — which is right next to Memorial Gym — underwent $4.5 million in renovations in 2006. The university has approved another $10 million in upgrades.
Best college baseball stadiums (according to D1Baseball.com)
- 1. LSU
- 2. Arkansas
- 3. South Carolina
- 4. Texas A&M
- 5. Ole Miss
- 6. Clemson
- 7. Florida State
- 8. Mississippi State
- 9. Coastal Carolina
- 10. North Carolina