By Nate Sanchez
Senior Staff Writer
On Feb. 15, 2013, the ‘Runners will begin the baseball season against the University of Nebraska. This season will be different from the previous ones. The ‘Runners will play this season in front of fans and fellow students as they’ve always done, but the difference this season will be where they watch the game.
The CSUB ‘Runner baseball team will have the honor of playing in front of brand new grand stands and a new press box constructed just in time for their season opener. The first three games the ‘Runners will play in front of the new grandstands stand as a challenge, with the ‘Runners hosting Nebraska, USC, and UC Fullerton in consecutive days.
“In the past, we’ve not had the type of structure out here that was of the quality of what a Division I program should be,” said Senior Associate Athletics Director Ziggy Siegfried.
The new facility bears a hefty price tag, however not hefty enough to stop supporters of the baseball program. The completed facilities will cost an estimated $700,000 to an even $1 million. Students need not fret about the bill, seeing as the entirety of the expenses are being covered by private donations.
“It’s going to be all private donations. The reason why there’s that gap in dollars is because in construction you’ll always have extra expenses,” said Siegfried. “We ended up going with some nicer seats, which cost us a little bit more money.”
In addition to the donations given by supporters, others can help raise money for the grandstands. The “Hardt Field Personalized Seat Program” allows for supporters of ‘Runner baseball to buy the rights to a seat behind home plate, or on the first or third base side. Upon buying a seat, the donor’s name will be placed on the seat. The donor will also have first rights to season tickets in that seat for life. Seats behind home plate cost $1500 per seat, while the others will be $1,000.
In the early years of the program, there was talk of playing the season exclusively at Sam Lynn Ballpark, the current home of the Bakersfield Blaze, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. However, Tom Hardt, and other devout supporters of the young program decided otherwise and built a field to house the ‘Runners.
In these the early years of the baseball program, having a Division I level facility is important to keep up with other elite Division I programs. Division I caliber athletes flock to schools with Division I caliber facilities. Not only are the new grandstands a fan’s reprieve from the often uncomfortable bleachers, they’re an excellent recruiting tool.
“Coach Kernan has been able to recruit top athletes because of the vision. Sooner or later you have to do what you’re telling them,” said Seifried
In the southwest corner of campus, there is a baseball field. On Feb. 15, the ‘Runners will take that field in their home opener against the Nebraska Huskers. The lights will shine from their high towers and the metal bleachers will be but skeletons that now hold up the newest addition to the young legacy of ‘Runner baseball.