When the Boston College athletics department announced its $200 million facilities investment back in February, it was met with incredible excitement. That the Eagles were building an indoor practice facility for football was long overdue, and the announcement that a new baseball stadium would come with it felt like the dawning of a new Birdball era.
Following that announcement, I filed a plea to the athletics department to build the right baseball stadium. I called it a potential game changer, but it's only that way if it's built the right way. That places an emphasis on having artificial turf, on having the right training facilities, and on having the right amenities.
Boston College has a competitive baseball team that's won over 30 games and is likely to make the NCAA Tournament. But from an ACC standpoint, consider how they compare against each of the other schools. Here's some of the highlights of the teams, based on how they finished from first through tenth. Bear in mind that I'm probably missing some of the details, but you can fill in the blanks at what I'm getting at.
Miami: Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field
As if you needed another reason to hate Alex Rodriguez, he gave $3.9 million to a college program he never even played for. His name is now affixed to the scoreboard of a stadium that installed new concession stands, new dugouts, new lighting, and new restrooms. They constructed a new press box at the field with four VIP suites.
What about player amenities? Hurricanes training in Miami have a clubhouse replete with a weight room, training room, meeting, video room, and academic area...all at the stadium.
Louisville: Jim Patterson Stadium
In 2013, Louisville renovated their stadium to include an expanded television suite in their press box, which also has two dedicated radio booths, a game operations booth, a non-broadcast area, development suite, and athletic director suite.
The baseball team has a dedicated building with three pitching/hitting cages, a full clubhouse with a players' lounge, and a theater-style meeting room. Then there's the usual stuff - weight rooms, equipment rooms, computer rooms, and training rooms.
Virginia: Davenport Field
The Wahoos boast on-site locker rooms and a players' clubhouse, with recent improvements to dugouts, the press box, and concession areas. They also added sky boxes for corporate sponsors.
Their clubhouse for the players gave them updated lockers, film and training facilities, and meeting rooms. It connects directly to their weight room, which allows for easy access.
Florida State: Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium
Attached to Howser Stadium is the Griffin Family Clubhouse, which provides the players with personalized wooden lockers, a video area, weight rooms, and training areas.
As part of a $12 million project, FSU added a $50,000 sound system at the stadium with a new drainage system, new sod, and a new, clay field. One of their special treats for their fans was the installation of 14-foot cooling fans since it can get pretty hot in Florida.
NC State: Doak Field at Dail Park
Just after 2000, NC State embarked on an ambitious $6 million renovation that pretty much built the stadium back up from scratch. They installed a new playing field and new irrigation and drainage systems. They built a field house with a 1,300-square foot locker room that has direct access to the dugout, a training room, lounge, and equipment room. They also added both indoor and outdoor batting cages.
Along with it, they built a 1,200-square foot press box with booths for both television and radio broadcasts.
Clemson: Kingsmore Stadium
In 2002, the Tigers renovated the stadium by adding in some really great stuff. They built a roof over the stands and built a press box with four TV/radio booths and a separate media center. Outside of the box, they built a patio area available for renting out to parties. They built new grandstands, which cost $1 million.
In terms of training, they added four batting cages and a practice facility enclosed around artificial turf. They put new lights on the stadium for night games, and they built a clubhouse with a players lounge and new offices.
Duke: Jack Coombs Field/Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Last October, Duke expanded a contract with the Durham Bulls to play home games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the home of the AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Beginning this year, the Blue Devils agreed to play 36 exhibition and home games at the field each year. They also agreed to use the stadium for practice for a limited amount of dates. In return, they'll receive a permanent locker room and clubhouse at the stadium.
It's a partnership that began in 2010 - and Duke already had a pretty beautiful field at Jack Coombs Field. While Duke was moving home games to DBAP, they still added field turf and a new drainage system at Coombs Field, adding an all-weather facility with six self-feeding batting cage machines. In addition, they have a locker room, video room, and players lounge at the field.
Georgia Tech: Russ Chandler Field
I just touched upon the stadium before the weekend. At the risk of being redundant, the players in Atlanta have locker rooms, a players lounge, video room, locker area, training facilities, a weight room, and a workout area.
Wake Forest: David F. Couch Ballpark
Before it was known as Couch Ballpark, Ernie Shore Field was the home stadium of the Winston-Salem Dash. Since taking over the stadium, Wake Forest embarked on an ambitious renovation package, renovating the site a handful of times since 2010. They're in the midst of building a $14 million player development center along the third base line, which will have 41,000 square feet of locker rooms, lounges, training rooms, video conference centers, meeting rooms, kitchens, and an indoor batting facility.
It's also going to have this thing called a pitching laboratory, which will have 18 high-speed cameras analyzing a player's biomechanics.
Then there's the video board, chairbacks, artificial turf, scoreboard, and a future indoor practice facility strictly for baseball. Way to overachieve, guys.
So that leads us back to Boston College. There's a few common trends among every single one of these stadiums has. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Eagles need to go out and build a baseball castle, but dedicated locker rooms at the field with indoor batting cages are an absolute must. Press boxes, media areas, training rooms - all of these are now necessities.
What's amazing is that Boston College is competing at a national level without any of these things. But right now, they have a golden opportunity to join those ranks, to build a facility that will be among the rest of the ACC. For the sake of the program, the university absolutely must get this right, and the blueprint is right there, sitting among their conference brethren - the same ones they're currently competing with and against.
Boston College is a nationally contending baseball team. Give them the right stadium, and help make this team rise to the level of the perennial powerhouses.