The Florida Gators have played at McKethan Stadium since 1988 but will have a new home for the 2020 baseball season.
Friday the University Athletic Association announced plans to build a brand new baseball stadium on a different site with an estimated budget of $50 million dollars.
“We are really excited about this project. Once it’s completed our student-athletes and staff will have first class facilities that rival any program in the country,” manager Kevin O’Sullivan said.
The plan is to begin construction in the Fall of 2018 on a site that the UAA is purchasing from UF. The location will be on Hull road near the Donald R. Dizney soccer/lacrosse fields and Katie Seashole Pressly softball stadium. The stadium will utilize 13.63 acres of land that is currently utilized by the Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (UF/IFAS). The UAA will contribute $3 million dollars to UF/IFAS which they plan to invest in research and redevelopment.
As far as the stadium goes, Scott Stricklin has already had experience in this area. Stricklin spearheaded funding and designing of a $55 million dollar renovation to Mississippi State’s baseball stadium — Duly Noble Field, which opened this season.
The new stadium will expand capacity from 5,500 (2,400 chair back seats) at McKethan to 5,000 chair back sets (bleacher seating is gone) with the ability to hold a maximum of 10,000 fans when general admission areas, berm seating and other non-traditional seating areas.
The emphasis in the rebuild is on the fan experience. The field will be oriented with home plate facing northeast so the sun will be behind the stadium, providing a cooler atmosphere for fans and players. Additionally the new seating will have a two level seating deck behind home plate. The upper tier extends out over the lower tier to provide shade and an awning extends over the top tier of seats.
The new stadium will also feature a 360 degree open concourse, something more new stadiums are doing, to give fans clean lines of sight to the field from wherever they are in the stadium.
“The new stadium will be much more suited to provide an outstanding experience for our fans. The administration has some unique ideas to ensure that the fan experience will be like nowhere else.”
O’Sullivan will be heavily involved when it comes to the areas that affect him, his staff and his team. The new stadium will have coaches offices, a new locker room, training room, batting cages, player’s lounge video editing room, equipment room and a practice field adjacent to right field. The practice field will double as an additional area for fans and families on game days.