LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky Athletics Department will begin construction on a new baseball stadium in February, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart announced at a press conference on Monday. Construction is expected to take 18-20 months, meaning the stadium will open in late fall 2018 in time for the 2019 UK baseball season.
“This is another step toward making the vision we have for our facilities a reality,” Barnhart said. “We are excited to begin construction on the baseball stadium we’ve long worked to build and even more excited to give our program an incredible new facility as we pursue our goal of competing at the highest level in the strongest conference in America.”
The cost of the stadium, which will give UK baseball a state-of-the-art home on par with its peers in the Southeastern Conference, will be $49 million. The new stadium – which is yet to be named – will be located off Alumni Drive between the new Kentucky Football Training Facility and the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex, adding to the cluster of UK Athletics facilities in the area.
“At the University of Kentucky, we have an athletics department – and a leader in Mitch Barnhart – deeply committed to success both on the field and in the classroom,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “As part of that commitment, they are making unprecedented investments that speak to the power of partnership – from millions of dollars in academic scholarships to $65 million toward the construction of the new Jacobs Science Building in the heart of our campus. Now, this further investment in athletics facilities and infrastructure planning will result in more recreational space and support for students as well as parking in a growing and vibrant area of our campus.”
The news regarding plans for the stadium comes days after the UK Board of Trustees gave its final approval on Friday for the project to move forward. In June 2015, the Board of Trustees approved financing for the design of the stadium, which is nearing completion.
“We’re extremely appreciative of the continued commitment of President Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart, the University of Kentucky, and our athletics department to our program,” UK coach Nick Mingione said. “The new facility will be beneficial in a multitude of ways and we will continue to bring the right type of students into our family to play in this marvelous facility. There’s a great deal of work to be done between now and the day our new stadium opens for our baseball program to reach the heights we all want it to, but we’re certainly excited about what the future holds.”
The baseball stadium is being relocated from its current site to accommodate the university’s South Campus Master Plan. The move will allow for the development of additional student recreation spaces and a substantial expansion of parking spaces on South Campus.
The stadium will feature permanent seating for nearly 2,500 fans with additional space on grass berms to accommodate a total of more than 4,000 fans for regular-season games. Beyond the outfield wall, temporary bleachers can be installed for NCAA Tournament games to bring the seating capacity to more than 7,000. Fan amenities also will include suites and a new club area.
The team areas will give Wildcat students and coaches everything they need to compete at a high level in a single location. The new stadium will feature a team lounge, locker room, training area, indoor hitting and pitching areas, and coaching offices, as well as a recruiting room. All spaces are either new to UK baseball or significantly larger than ones currently in use.
UK Athletics is working with Ross Tarrant Architects and HNTB to design and build the stadium, the same partners who recently completed the renovations of Commonwealth Stadium and the new Kentucky Football Training Facility.
The new stadium will replace Cliff Hagan Stadium, which has been home to UK baseball since its opening in 1969. Once the new stadium opens, Cliff Hagan Stadium will be demolished to make way for a new facility for UK’s men’s and women’s tennis programs. Additionally, a new soccer practice field replacing the one located at the site of the new baseball stadium will be built at the current site of the club practice field off College Way.