Field will be named Durham Field with season-opener set Feb. 20-21
HICKORY – The first phase of construction on Lenoir-Rhyne University’s baseball facility began last week.
In a press release, school officials said the start of a three-phase upgrade for its on-campus baseball stadium will include adding an AstroTurf field.
The Bears are scheduled to open their 2020-2021 schedule with two home games against Catawba on Feb. 20-21 and two more the next day at LRU.
The field will be named Durham Field in honor of Rhett Durham, a 1995 LRU graduate whose daughter graduated from LRU and whose son currently plays golf for the Bears.
“Upgrading our baseball facility with field turf is an important step toward advancing our strategic vision focused on enhancing the student-athlete experience across all Lenoir-Rhyne athletic programs,” said Kim Pate, vice president of athletics at LRU. “This project wouldn’t be possible had it not been for the leadership of Coach (Chris) Ramirez, our Advancement team, and, most importantly, a dedicated group of baseball alumni and friends who stepped up to support this campaign.
“We are excited to celebrate the announcement of the naming of our field in honor of the Durham Family and appreciate their longstanding support and unique ties to our campus and community.”
The project calls for a full field conversion that includes installing drainage as wells as utilizing the Diamond Series Baseball Turf. The Diamond Series allows for more customization to adjust the speed of the playing surface and is designed to replicate a high-level grass field mostly seen on the NCAA Division I and professional levels.
The entire field, infield and outfield as well as home and visiting bullpens will be turfed and will be completed in time for the 2021 spring season. Additionally, home plate will move up seven feet to allow for more foul territory behind the plate and new foul poles will be installed.
“It is an exciting day for Lenoir-Rhyne baseball,” Ramirez said. “Our No.1 priority is always our players. From recruiting high impact players, retaining them and developing them to reach their full potential, the installation of a full artificial turf field directly enhances our ability to do these things.”
LRU becomes the only South Atlantic Conference (SAC) institution with a baseball field that has both lights and field turf. The Bears will be the only NCAA Division II program in North Carolina to have a fully turfed field.
“AstroTurf is the cream of the crop when it comes to Baseball Turf fields, and we will have as nice of a baseball field as any program in the nation,” Ramirez said. “I can’t say enough about all the work behind the scenes to make this happen in a very short time.
“It is great to be at a university fully committed to having one of the top NCAA baseball programs in the country and provide an experience for our student-athletes that is second to none.”
The second phase of the renovation is set to include the addition of grandstands with the final phase including a new press box. Anyone interested in supporting the next two phases can contact Aaron Bessey at email@example.com.
An official groundbreaking ceremony and video recap is scheduled on Monday.
— Information provided in press release by LRU Sports Information.
LRU’S 2020 BASBALL SCHEDULE: https://www.thesac.com/sports/bsb/2020-21/schedule?teamId=nfgv12xzhl2zmq3e