Siebert field to get first use of the season

Minnesota will make the move from the Metrodome to Siebert this weekend.

Trevor Born

With more than half the season gone, the Minnesota baseball team still hasn’t played on its true home field.

weekend baseball

Minnesota vs. Illinois at Siebert Field
-April 18: 3:05 p.m.
-April 19 (2 games): 1:05 p.m.
-April 20: 1:05 p.m.
All four games available on gophersports.com and KLBB 1220 AM.

The Gophers played their first 18 home games at the Metrodome, where they finished 11-7. They will play their first game at Siebert Field today against Illinois (18-13, 6-6 Big Ten), kicking off a four-game series.

“That’s Northern baseball, there’s nothing you can do about it,” head coach John Anderson said.

Having a domed stadium is an asset for the Gophers, who start their season in February. Without it, they would have to operate on a schedule similar to Northwestern, which played its first 17 games of the season on the road.

“It’s nice to have the Metrodome so we can have a place to play at the beginning of the season,” Anderson said. “But baseball’s an outdoor sport and we’re happy to get outside.”

Siebert, located by the Bierman Field Athletic Building in Dinkytown, was opened in 1971 and is known for having one of the best playing surfaces in college baseball, but not much else.

BallParkWatch.com ranks it the No. 7 most endangered stadium in any level of baseball, estimating that there is a 90 percent chance the field “will meet the wrecking ball within the next five years.”

Anderson and the baseball program have been lobbying the University for a new stadium for years, but haven’t made much progress. In 2005-2006, the team played all but two of its home games, including the entire Big Ten schedule, in the Metrodome. In the two years since, they have used Siebert for conference play.

“Playing home games outdoors has its pros and cons because of some of the weather we’ve been having, but we just have to deal with it and focus on winning ball games,” Anderson said.

The Gophers practiced at Siebert for the first time this week. They were supposed to play there last week against Northern Iowa, but more abysmal weather kept them inside.

“Aprils in Minnesota, you know how it is,” junior Jeremy Chlan said after that game. “It’s frustrating, but oh well.”

Despite having to change their home field midseason, players are looking at their true home opener as a possible turnaround point. The Gophers (15-18, 5-7 Big Ten) are currently tied for fifth in the conference and on the bubble for a spot in the Big Ten tournament, which only takes the top-six finishers.

“Now is when we feel like, if we get a couple wins, then we can turn that into eight, nine or 10 in a row,” junior outfielder Eric Decker said. “Everybody has a feeling that we’re going to start reeling off some wins soon.”