Long Beach, Calif. - The next phase of the Blair Field renovation project is about to begin, starting with a special groundbreaking ceremony this Sunday, prior to the Dirtbags game against Cal Poly. Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley, Athletic Director Vic Cegles, and Dirtbags head coach Troy Buckley will address a gathered crowd of dedicated supporters, donors, season ticket holders, and alumni, before officially breaking ground on the second phase of construction.
What will follow is the development of the Troy & Danyll Tulowitzki Batting Facility along the right field side of Blair, and the Jered Weaver Bullpen behind the right field fence. These projects were funded through generous donations from both former Dirtbags, now MLB All-Stars in the midst of lengthy playing careers. They, along with other former players who have contributed to the Blair Field renovations including Evan Longoria and Jason Vargas, were invited to attend the ceremony, but are currently in season with their teams and will be unable to attend. LBSU supporter Marilyn Bohl, who made a $1 million pledge to the Blair Field renovations back in January, will be a special guest at the ceremony and will take part in the groundbreaking.
"This renovation project has been made possible by the generous support of our alumni and donors," said Cegles. "These improvements to Blair Field will reflect the legacy and tradition of Dirtbags Baseball and will provide a tremendous benefit to our student-athletes."
Construction will begin on the bullpen first, starting on Tuesday, May 3. It will be a three-mound bullpen located beyond the new fence in right field, with sections of the original wall being moved back to create addition space. In future seasons, that will become the home bullpen as the Dirtbags plan to make the move back to the first-base dugout.
The second component of Phase II will be the batting facility, which will be a 9,600-square-foot facility located in place of the current batting cages along right field. There will be six batting tunnels of various sizes, lending themselves to different drills and workouts. The facility will stand 32 feet, with an interior clear cage dimension of 23 feet. The cages are frequently used by current Dirtbags players during the season, along with several prominent alumni (including Tulowitzki) for offseason workouts.
"This is the most important facilities project that we have undertaken in the last 20 years, since the Walter Pyramid was built," said LBSU Senior Associate Athletic Director Wayne Stickney. "Its importance is pivotal to the future of baseball in Long Beach. Renovating Blair Field will significantly increase our ability to recruit the best athlete, dramatically enhance the facility for our current student-athletes, and strategically improve game day experience for our alumni and fans."
Phase II of the renovations will be a $2.8 million project, with completion of both the bullpen and the batting facility expected in November. Other components of the Blair Field renovations project include a new team clubhouse, grandstand modernization and improvements for fans, a practice infield along the left field side of the facility, an improved parking lot, and more. A timeline on additional phases of construction will depend on funding for the project, generated through the Blair Field Campaign.
"This will help all levels of baseball," notes Stickney, who is spearheading the fundraising campaign. "We are asking our alumni, friends, and community to get involved and support the project."
Sunday's groundbreaking ceremony will take place prior to Long Beach State's 1 p.m. game against Cal Poly, with check-in beginning at 11:30 a.m. The event is accessible by invite only, open to current baseball donors, season ticket holders and baseball alumni. If you are interested in attending the ceremony, please email BeachAthleticClub@csulb.edu by Friday at 5 p.m. in order to secure your admittance.
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