October 7, 2011
English Field set for enhancement project
New playing surface and expansion of dugouts highlight the upgrades

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech’s home to the baseball program – English Field – is in the midst of an almost $2 million enhancement project that started in July with the building of a new batter’s eye and will be completed sometime early next year before the Hokies open their 2012 home schedule.

Highlighting the enhancements and upgrades to the field are a new playing surface that features artificial turf, an expansion of the dugouts and a newly padded outfield wall.

“We are excited about having the artificial surface. It’s the state-of-the-art surface that’s out there right now,” head coach Pete Hughes said. “The foremost reason I am excited is that it gives our kids the ability to develop on days where they couldn’t in the past. We can get out there and develop as a program on that surface any time of the year.

“Aesthetically, it’s going to be a huge improvement. Zero maintenance involved, which is going to be a huge help for our kids and for all the personnel involved in our athletics department and our field crew. There are way too many advantages and plusses to this. Everything we’ve gotten since I have been here has been for developmental reasons, from our hitting facility to the turf.”

Associate Director of Athletics for Internal Affairs Tom Gabbard rattled off the extensive list of improvements the facility will feature next season.

“A batter’s eye, a new outfield fence, a new visitor’s bullpen behind the right field wall,” he said. “The scoreboard will get some upgrades to it. There will be new electronic wiring that goes back to the press box and from the press box to a TV pedestal in Rector Field House, which will accommodate TV trucks for track and baseball, much like we have at Lane Stadium and Cassell Coliseum.

“Obviously the new surface, enhanced dugouts which will be deeper and heated, ring-down phones from the dugouts to the bullpens, photo positions for TV cameras and wiring the facility just like basketball and football, so when the TV trucks show up, they just plug in … all these make English Field a terrific facility.

“The project will come in somewhere between $1.6 and $1.8 (million) when we are done. The field itself is about $1.1, and then the rest of it makes up the difference.”

The addition of the batter’s eye will include five flagpoles and will fly the American flag in the center between the Virginia state flag and the Virginia Tech flag. The final two positions on the ends will hold pennants from each of the ACC schools and will be set up on game days showing the current baseball standings in each division.

The artificial surface is described as an infill system, like the lacrosse and soccer practice field, with rubber. The warning track will be maroon and the infield, where one would normally see dirt, will be burnt orange. The entire field will be turf except the pitcher’s mound.

“Being able to double the size of our dugouts, that will be much better on a daily basis,” Hughes said. “They will be beautiful dugouts, ACC dugouts, and that will be a huge improvement along with our outfield wall going to padded wall. That will make it a safer venue to play, and the addition of our batter’s eye will provide a tremendous background for our hitters, which we didn’t have before.

“Any time you can improve your play and the safety of games played at English Field is a positive, and it will now give us a better ACC-type venue feel, which I didn’t think we had in the past.

“We are much appreciative to our administration for investing and improving our facilities so that we can keep growing in this league that is expanding, and we just want to keep up with it. We are excited for these changes that have started.”

Construction crews have already started on the removal of the old outfield wall, and the removal of the current surface is expected to get underway next week.

Follow the project with occasional image updates on the baseball team’s official twitter page – see below.

For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).

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