By CHRIS MACKOWIAK
Featured photo: Sea Gull Baseball Stadium main entrance. Chris Mackowiak photo
While campus grew quiet during the winter semester, progress expanded on Salisbury University’s East Campus as the final stages are completed on a few projects.
Most notably glowing in Salisbury University Athletics for the first time in the 2018 Spring semester is the new Sea Gull Baseball Stadium. Its unveiling to the public will on Opening Day Feb. 10 when the Sea Gulls host Gwynedd Mercy University.
The new facility is a large upgrade for a program that has made it to 18 consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Entering their fourth season under Head Coach Troy Brohawn, Salisbury has achieved back-to-back Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championships too.
“The baseball field is obviously a significant improvement from the former field that we had. It is one of the best baseball field’s in Division III. It meets the needs of Coach Brohawn and his program in that it provides the opportunity to play games in inclement weather,” SU Athletics Director Dr. Gerry DiBartolo said.
The field is the final installment for now of major projects over the last few years for Salisbury and mirrors the recently completed sister-structure, Sea Gull Softball Stadium. The two facilities will share many of the same features too.
Extended netting stretches high above the backstop to protect fans and the media press box. It is an improvement in protection for fans that will remember only metal fencing at the old field.
Compared to the former SU Baseball Field, the new stadium features the same dimensions, much larger dugouts and an additional element for cold February and early March contests: heating inside the new dugouts. The heating was something SU placed in the new softball dugouts last year.
DiBartolo hopes that facility will be an upgrade not only for players, but also for the fan experience.
“Hopefully, it will be a great improvement for fans to watch the games as we’ve provided some chair-back seats in the center section as well as to just make the atmosphere that much better,” DiBartolo said.
Those familiar with East Campus will also notice other slight changes from recent projects this winter.
Alongside Bateman St. next to the Sea Gull Softball Stadium and the SU Track & Field area, the pine trees have been removed as new fencing was put in to fit with the new East Campus decorative theme.
“Because we had done all of the decorative fencing to try to make the façade of all the areas look consistent, we went ahead and removed those trees which were probably at the tail-end of their life. We added the decorative fencing to finish out the area,” DiBartolo said.
The new black fencing now spans for most of East Campus. With the removal of the trees, it provides a better view of track and field activities from Bateman St. A new sign seems to be coming on the corner of the Bateman and Wayne intersection too.
With the new baseball facility being moved one lot over next to the Sea Gull Soccer Stadium, the former baseball field is currently an empty lot with additional new landscaping bordering Wayne Street. The area is now fenced in and will see greater use this spring season.
“We’ve moved the track-and-field hammer and discus throwing pit over there. We put a new one there. That is in dead centerfield. Obviously, when the track and field [program] is using that, we won’t let anyone in that area,” DiBartolo said.
The move takes these specialty events from inside the track and into a safer zone on the lot. The plan is for the new open field adjacent to the parking garage to be open to students when track-and-field activities are not taking place.
DiBartolo notes that it will be considered an open-play field for Salisbury University students and will not be strictly monitored via a reservation system.
Plans are already being generated though for future use of the lot behind-the-scenes. However, for now, this period of athletics renovations is pausing until the next chapter.
“We are hoping at some point in time in the future that we’ll be able to start the process of building a new athletics facility in that space,” DiBartolo said.