High Hopes for New Baseball Stadium
By Susan Gatanis
The planning phase is underway for a new baseball stadium at DeSales University.The conceptual plans for Butz Field include the addition of concession stands, restrooms, stadium style seating, lighting and a press box, along with an updated brick exterior, according to Marc Albenese, executive director of campus environment.
The project is still in the fundraising stage, according to Albenese, so a specific completion date has not been set. Albenese hopes to see completion within five years; however, the time of its completion is greatly dependent on the success of fundraising and donations.
The project will cost approximately $2 million and will be paid for using money from the Capital Campaign. The campaign is being used to raise money to build the new Gambit Center, Salesian Center, and baseball stadium.
Albenese commented that once ample money is raised for the project, the new baseball stadium could be completed between nine months and one year.
“It’s the only thing we’re waiting for,” Albenese said, in reference to funding.
Albenese shared that a main reason for a new stadium is due to Butz Field’s location on campus.
Butz Field is situated on Preston Lane, which is the main entrance to DeSales University. Because Butz Field has become somewhat of a DSU focal point, it is important that it is pleasing to the eye.
The stadium will not only contribute to an appealing first impression for DSU’s campus, but will also provide a more enjoyable atmosphere for games.
Tim Neiman, head coach of the DSU baseball team, feels that the updates at Butz Field will increase attendance at games.
Neiman explained that the addition of simple upgrades, such as the option of buying a hotdog and the comfort of using a nearby restroom, will contribute to a fun, fan-friendly atmosphere at the new stadium.
“We typically have very well attended games and providing fans with some basic amenities will only enhance the established interest,” said Neiman.
An increase in attendance would be great news for the baseball team. Having a large crowd present at games is very important to them, according to Jason Hadinger, first year first baseman.
“Playing in front of a bigger crowd gets you, as a player, pumped. A big crowd can intimidate the opposing team and also cause them to make mistakes, which would be vital in any game played,” Hadinger said.
Hadinger is also looking forward to an opportunity to play night games with the addition of lighting at Butz Field.
“There is nothing like playing under the lights,” said Hadinger.
Another advantage of the new facility is stadium seating. Neiman pointed out the advantage of stadium seating, stating that it will “undoubtedly” add to the team’s “home field advantage and mystique.”
The stadium seating has another benefit in that it will draw a fan base from areas other than the DSU campus.
“Stadium seating will be attractive not only to the folks of the DeSales community, but also to our surrounding neighbors in the Lehigh, Northampton and adjacent counties that enjoy that great game of baseball,” said Neiman.
Derek Moyer, junior second baseman, also sees an advantage of providing stadium seats.
“Right now there are only two stands for fans to sit in and they are on the away team’s side,” explained Moyer. “The majority of DeSales’ fans sit in the grass behind the backstop.”
Moyer believes the updated facility is good for the future of the baseball team and will ultimately help the program grow.
“I know that it will attract fresh talent to the program,” Moyer said. “Who wouldn’t want to play in a brand new stadium?”
The most recent upgrade of Butz Field took place in the fall of 2008. $35,000 was spent to re-sod and irrigate the infield, which was still the original surface that was installed 19 years ago. This was done because the infield was hard and balls were “taking weird bounces” during play, according to Albenese. The new irrigation system helps keep the ground soft for optimum play.
According to Albenese, the upcoming construction at Butz Field will be completed in such a way that the new infield will not be damaged.
Neiman commented that the infield problems were “very well addressed” and that he is pleased with the current status.
“All in all, Butz Field is an excellent ball park and a great place for our student athletes to participate in college baseball,” said Neiman.