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Game at Siebert highlights need for decisions on a ballpark

Today Minnesota’s baseball team will play its only game this season at Siebert Field, the on-campus home to Gophers baseball since 1971.

And for almost the entire time Minnesota has been playing at Siebert, coach John Anderson has been a part of the program.

Anderson played for the Gophers from 1974 to 1975, was a student assistant in 1976 and 1977, served as a graduate assistant in 1978, was an assistant coach from 1979 to 1981 and since 1981 has been the man in charge of the Minnesota program.

But as for the 25 home games this season – aside from this afternoon’s – all but one, Monday’s game against St. Thomas at Midway Stadium, is being played at the Metrodome.

To be sure, it’s disheartening to play 24 of 26 home dates indoors and off campus. But because of the poor condition of Siebert, it’s also practically a necessity.

“It’ll be kind of a nostalgia in some ways, a what-if,” Anderson said of today’s game against Northern Iowa. “It’d be nice to be here, rekindle some of the history and emotions, some of the great memories. But it’s going to be for one day.”

Unfortunately the one day will be the only day Gophers baseball will be taking place on campus. It also will be just one of two home dates played outside on natural grass, as opposed to inside a cold, multi-purpose, artificial turf, off-campus monstrosity.

Still, playing most of the season at the Metrodome is something that is unavoidable with the condition of Siebert Field.

“We just didn’t feel like (Siebert) was conducive to provide the type of experience for our players No. 1 – the student-athletes,” Anderson said. “And then our fans and people who come to the games don’t really have a lot of the amenities out there to deal with the elements that come up from time to time.

“It’s really not in the type of shape you would expect to have for Division I baseball for everybody’s sake.”

The fact that Minnesota is forced to the Metrodome because there is no viable on-campus baseball option makes it tougher for the team to feel at home.

“Obviously it would be easier to go to the same place every day to practice and play, and have a home,” Anderson said.

“It seems sometimes like you’re always on the road, always playing a road game. Considering the circumstances, we’re very fortunate to have the Metrodome.”

But for a team playing Division I baseball, the circumstances aren’t anywhere close to ideal.

There’s a baseball stadium on campus in disrepair. A professional facility exists off campus, but not only can the team not practice there, but playing at the Metrodome also means playing in a dome with artificial turf. Neither of those things are part of playing baseball the way it’s intended.

The solution, then, is to do something – a new on-campus ballpark or renovation to Siebert – to help the Gophers baseball program and allow fans to enjoy on-campus, outdoor baseball.

“Anything that we do would be better than what we have,” Anderson said. “I’d like us to make a decision to do something so we can move ahead to the future and put together a facility, wherever it’s going to be, that we can call home and use on a regular basis.”

– Matt Anderson welcomes comments at [email protected].

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