First in a series of dreams-capes for athletic construction.
A while back, I wrote a piece here at On the Banks about facilities and how RU stacked up against the folks in our new neighborhood. Back on October 20, our colleague and basketball maven Dave White wrote a piece calling for Rutgers to invest in the hoops program. It generated a lot of interest and more than a few interesting, if not off track, comments. The need for a basketball practice facility is obvious, but people also got off onto hockey and baseball. There were questions of how much was needed to finance it and where things would be built. Not exactly what Dave was looking for. But still all significant questions.
And there was one comment about the straying from basketball:
It's like when people talk about what they would do if they won the lottery
Now, there is a feasibility study being undertaken by Athletics, and the hope was to have something to announce by the end of the year. Back in July, AD Julie Hermann, in an interview with Dan Duggan said that was an important step:
"It's been coming soon for a while. It's easy to have grand plans. It's really important to know we can do that. So, we have a vision, we've kind of set our heart on what we think is the smartest next thing to build, but we also think it's important to do a feasibility study about that so that when we say, 'This is what we're going to build,' that our fans and supporters and donors that have been kind enough to step up go, 'Yeah, I can see how you're going to get that done.' We're going to take the time to do that.
But, in the mean time, what if we did win the lottery? Or T. Boone Pickens decided he'd given enough money to Oklahoma State and Rutgers was next on his list? Okay, let's forget a feasibility study for a while and start dreaming and drawing and thinking outside the box. And for starters, I've already done the legwork.
Let's assume (and you know what happens when you do that) that a practice facility for men's and women's hoops will get done. What's next? Let's start easy and relatively cheap. Let's start with, oh, baseball and softball. Julie again:
""Since I've been here for a year, we've been looking at every kind of possibility of how to get our baseball and softball teams indoor concepts. We finally arrived at this concept because it's a doable number. It's about $3 million and we feel that we can raise that. We're over $1 million already, and having good conversations with people who are interested in advancing that so we feel like that will be one of the first ones that we step up and move forward.....The baseball field is a great playing surface. We just have to dress it up. It has to go from ballpark to stadium a little bit."
From ballpark to stadium. Ever see what they have at Louisville?
Think, 'Oh, that's Louisville with all that money.' Okay, then how about Delaware? Del-A-freakin'-Ware!
Then there's Bainton Field at Rutgers, the high school field on steroids.
And trust me, softball is even less impressive. You can go to that earlier piece I wrote and see for yourself. So what do we do? Here's the "plan". As Julie said, you go from ballpark to stadium. You need lights - on both fields - and you need to build a real stadium-type of seating area with rest rooms and concessions. Move the softball field so it backs up the baseball field and the connecting structure can house locker and training areas as well as offices. The indoor hitting facility - and money is already being raised for it - goes next to it. And it kinda/sorta looks like this:
It will take money, lots of it, and it will need to come from private donations. Back in 1998, my class donated $25,000 to baseball. It was a small gift, but it helped in the process. RU will need a lot more of this:
So, what do you think? Are baseball and softball good places to start? The Big Ten is going in this direction; I think we need to jump on board, too.