As Gino DiMare looks to begin a rebuild of the Hurricanes Baseball program in 2019, he also will hope to continue improving the Hurricanes’ baseball facilities. Over time the program has fallen behind the rest of the college baseball world in terms of infrastructure, but over the past several years improvements have been made. With the start of what should be an exciting new era of baseball upon us, it’s time to begin to bring the home of Miami Hurricanes baseball up to the level of the other elite programs in the nation.
Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field
In 2009, the University of Miami received a $3.9 million dollar donation from star baseball player Alex Rodriguez to significantly improve the home of Hurricanes Baseball. An update was very much needed at the time.
The park surrounding Mark Light Field was drastically redone. The Hurricanes clubhouse was completely rebuilt. With modifications including a new dugout, coaches’ offices, and a significantly improved player locker room. In addition, Miami added several new conference and team meeting rooms; finishing off the behind the scenes renovations with a baseball only weight room.
On the general public side of the stadium; fan and media amenities were also improved. New seats were installed in the grandstand, and the press box was extensively modified, rebuilt, and improved. A brand new LCD scoreboard was completed in the outfield, and the field was resurfaced. Not to mention that the concession area and concourse was expanded and brought up to modern standards that could accommodate increased crowds.
The Light has seen notable improvement in recent years, but there is still work left to be done in my opinion. One of the most notable needs was for a padded outfield, which was finally addressed this off-season;
First look at our new OF wall. Looks even better live. More to come. pic.twitter.com/AdHZ7RNNAF— Gino DiMare (@GinoDiMare1) December 21, 2018
However, programs across the country have started to establish new standards for the fan experience in recent years. This has become especially common across the southeast; Florida plans to build an entirely new baseball facility, along with similar process being undertaken at Oklahoma State, Kentucky (their new stadium opens this year), and Mississippi State, just to name a few. Miami needs to establish more permanent seating down each baseline, and work to provide cover for fans to truly bring an iconic stadium into the modern era.
With the donation in 2009 part of the work done was to build a state-of-the-art weight room for use by the baseball team. When work was completed it gave Miami one of the most modern strength facilities in the nation. Along with allowing the program to truly center around Mark Light Field, and not have to travel to the Hecht Athletic Center to weight train and condition.
The locker room, coaches offices, and other facilities also saw improvement, as previously stated. However, Miami still has serious needs in terms of practice and support facilities. Chief among these is the need for an Indoor Hitting Facility. Several teams have had indoor areas to hit since the early to mid 2000s, and Miami has been in desperate need of a facility of their own for a long time. Fortunately, it appears as if Blake James has taken steps to solve this problem. At Gino DiMare’s introductory press conference, James announced that the University’s Athletics Department has received funding to build an indoor facility for baseball. Miami’s batting cages haven’t received an update in several years. Much like the football team, the baseball team cannot effectively practice in the often stormy weather of South Florida. An indoor facility has become a glaring need for this program for more than a decade. It’s nice to see this need finally addressed and, hopefully, solved.
As Miami introduces a new era on the field in Coral Gables in 2019, it has work to do and goals to achieve for facilities around the program. The last ten years have seen strong work done around Mark Light Field, and that effort must be continued to put the Hurricanes, and Coach DiMare, in the best position for success.