A week ago, Cal Poly athletic director Don Oberhelman wasn’t sure if the first phase of a massive $8 million remodeling project at Robin Baggett Stadium would be done in time for the baseball team’s home opener Friday.
Oberhelman’s worry had disappeared Wednesday.
“(Construction crews) have been working around the clock the past couple weeks to make sure we get that opportunity to have the seats in place for opening day,” Oberhelman said.
The first phase of the stadium upgrades, which Oberhelman said cost the school $1.1 million, included the instillation of new aluminum bleachers. The addition increased the stadium capacity by 338 to 3,138 seats. The new bleachers also reach higher above the field and move the fans closer to the action.
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“We had some temporary seating and borrowed seating from the rodeo, so we have been piecing this together with baling wire and duct tape for a number of years,” Oberhelman said. “With the rise in popularity in Cal Poly baseball, we had to do something.”
Cal Poly also removed large poles that supported protective netting around the field and obstructed spectator’s views. The new-and-improved netting creates clean views with the use of long cables attached to poles down the foul line.
As soon as next month, Cal Poly plans to start on phase two of the project, which includes tearing down the outdated clubhouse and replacing it with a two-story, 10,000-square-foot facility complete with a lounge and kitchen, meeting and study space, locker room, training room, offices and a therapeutic cold-plunge pool. The new clubhouse is expected to be ready by the start of the 2019 season. Oberhelman said the school is also looking at installing a new digital scoreboard next year.
He estimates that $7 million of the $8 million needed to complete the total remodel came from private donations.
“It changes the whole dynamic of the stadium. It looks like a real enclosed stadium,” Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee said of the facility that opened in 2001. “We hope to put a good product on the field to fill those stands.”
Cal Poly (3-5) enters the three-game weekend series against Pacific, starting at 6 p.m. Friday, game coming off a 7-4 loss to San Jose State on Tuesday. The Friday forecast calls for rain, but don’t expect the weather to dampen the spirits of the Cal Poly players whose excitement for the improved facility has been building with each improvement.
“Things that have been a long time coming are now coming to fruition finally, and it’s been very satisfying for all of us to see because we get to see our student-athlete’s reaction when they see it,” Oberhelman said. “When baseball players look up and their eyes get big, that’s exciting.”