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Major upgrades for University of Oklahoma baseball/softball

The University of Oklahoma (OU) has completed the drafting of master plans for the baseball and softball facilities at OU.

The work encompasses expansion and enhancements at both L. Dale Mitchell Park and the OU Softball Complex.

Populous, the firm retained for the south end zone project at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, has performed the work on the two ballparks.

Vice president and athletics director Joe Castiglione said:

We are focused on developing a plan that allows us to modernise the facilities and improve them for both student-athletes and spectators alike.

We have addressed many of our facilities in recent years and we now turn our attention to baseball and softball.

With the master plan complete, we will focus on fund-raising efforts that will allow us to approach the projects prudently. I’m optimistic that donors to our program will see the value and efficiency of these projects and help us see them to completion.

The full master plan calls for approximately $15 million of work at the softball park and $10 million at the baseball park. The work could be phased if necessary.

Castiglione said that the timeline for the work is yet to be established, but that the department is anxious to move the projects forward.

L. Dale Mitchell Park

The most visible aspect of the baseball project would be the development of the berms along the first and third base lines. Renovation of the existing berms along the first and third base side of the ballpark would include the following:

  • Terraced seating to allow for a combination of terraced picnic type seating on grass.
  • Outdoor lounge seating on terraced wall.
  • First base club consisting of drink rails, lounge seating, table-top seating.
  • Outdoor concession area reminiscent of an outdoor sports lounge with TVs and specialty lighting.
  • Integrated extension of the shade awning along the first base side.
  • Expanded upper concourse.
  • Outdoor lounge seating with shading devices.
  • Shaded terraced awning in the shape of a baseball at the far end of the berms that will allow for bar height drink rails.

Also in the plan is a second level clubhouse, coaches office and team meeting space.

OU Softball Complex

The work at softball includes seating expansion at the stadium and student-athlete amenities in the clubhouse area. It would cover:

  • Expansion of the seating bowl around the infield to include 939 additional seats and 26 ADA seats to increase the fixed seating capacity in that area alone to 1,406. Including the outfield bleacher seats, the total capacity of the facility would increase from 1,378 to 2,566. The reconfigured seating bowl would consist of both fixed chair backs and bleachers.
  • New shade canopy over the fixed seating behind home plate would provide shade coverage for the fans.
  • Press box expansion to roughly triple its current size with new wings on both the first and third base side. This space would have the ability to be open air or enclosed depending on the weather. Most media are now seated in an open-air space on the concourse. The new area would place them and their equipment under cover in a more elevated position.
  • Increased concession locations and restrooms added behind the home plate press box at field level.
  • The reorganisation of the visitor bullpen in right field and additional sidewalks to allow 360-degree access around the facility.
  • The addition of an upper concourse to accommodate better flow of fans in and around the facility.

The elimination of the outdoor batting cages would allow for the expansion of the locker rooms that house both student-athletes and coaches. On the south side of the clubhouse, a lobby area would be added to showcase memorabilia and trophies and serve as meeting space.

Sooner softball captured its sixth consecutive Big 12 championship last week, and is the reigning NCAA champion.

The surging baseball programme is 32-17 overall and in possession of third place in the Big 12, which holds the highest conference RPI rating in the country.

Images courtesy of Populous