Siebert Field to lose 1,900 seats before next season

Courtney Lewis

Looking out from the press box at Siebert Field – home of the University baseball team – will no longer offer a view of old and broken bleachers along the first and third baselines.

Instead, there will be nothing.

The bleachers have been found to be structurally unsound and will be taken out with no intention of replacing them.

Now, an already second-rate facility will go from 2,500 seats to a Big Ten-low 600.

“From the facility and the venue itself, the amenities, we’re at best a glorified high school,” coach John Anderson said.

The baseball program has recently been spending $3,000 to $5,000 a year just to keep Siebert up to code, but Anderson no longer wants to put money into a facility on its last legs.

The University is currently working to supply the baseball program with a new facility located either at the current site of Siebert Field or on Fifth and Oak streets near Mariucci Arena. Plans to stay at the Metrodome full-time are also being considered by Anderson.

The committee responsible for coming up with a site, design and cost for a new facility include Anderson, director of budget and finance from the Facilities Management office Harvey Turner, owner’s representative of the Facilities Management office Kevin Ross and representatives from Tonya Moten Brown’s office.

Turner expressed his desire not only for a new baseball stadium but for a facility to be used by all students.

“We are looking at creating an aesthetic park-like environment,” Turner said. “Something that will be a contributing element to the campus environment.”

The committee wants to create a facility that can accommodate intercollegiate athletics, including men’s baseball and women’s softball, as well as a recreation sports complex complete with flag football and softball fields.

Anderson is encouraged by the fact that a new stadium is not a dead issue but is still unhappy with how long it has taken to get to this point.

“Over the last seven or eight years I saw this coming,” Anderson said.

Even though stadium discussions are forthcoming, Anderson is still concerned with the effect time could have on his program.

Anderson said the committee will be choosing from four architectural design firms this week or next, and the firm will be responsible for looking at the pros and cons of each possible facility site.

Once a site is established, a design has to be decided on and costs must be figured. Then the program can begin fund raising. Actual construction can’t begin until all of this is finished, a process Anderson believes could take up to four or five years.

“You start to wonder how this will affect recruiting,” Anderson said. “All of a sudden kids see you dismantling your stadium; it sends the wrong message.

“Your facilities are a statement of your commitment to your program. We’re going to have to rely on our reputations as coaches, our tradition and our history so we can still get good kids to come here and play for us.”

Starting next year, those top prospects will watch Minnesota’s baseball team compete to the cheers of a few fans standing on the baselines where 1,900 fans were once able to sit.

 

Anthony Maggio welcomes comments [email protected]