On Wednesday, UConn released a stadium feasibility study for baseball, soccer, and softball as well as the possibility of expansion to Freitas Ice Forum. If the plans that the architecture company Populous put forth are put in place, then the area around Jim Calhoun Way will be radically changed.
The biggest change is that the baseball field will move to where Morrone Stadium currently is and that stadium will look much different than J.O. Christian Field.
As opposed to a few sets of bleachers around a baseball field, there will be 1,500 seats from base to base around home plate, with room to expand as well as the critical addition of lights.
It will be oriented with the left-field foul line pointing down Jim Calhoun Way towards Shenkman and Burton. Each dugout will have three bullpens behind it, as opposed to the two they have now.
The field will have turf and the Huskies will have a locker room with showers, something that they do not have now. There will also be a new scoreboard featuring video and two suites, one on each side of the press box.
The soccer stadium will seat 5,500 people and will go behind where the softball field currently is, towards D-Lot and Gampel Pavilion.
The field will also be artificial turf and house locker rooms for both the home and road teams as well as the officials. There will also be office space for the baseball, softball and both men’s and women’s soccer teams.
The plans include an athletic training, weight, and film rooms, which will combine to be 12,000 square feet. There will also be a practice field identical to the field in the stadium.
The softball field will be in the same space it occupies now, just rotated 180 degrees so that the outfield faces campus. It will have space to seat 500 with room for expansion to 1,000 and will look very similar to the baseball stadium, just on a smaller scale.
The field will be turf, have lights and a video board, along with a suite on each side of the press box.
The study also proposed expanding Freitas Ice Forum to meet Hockey East standards, allowing the men’s hockey team to come back to campus.
Freitas is currently at a capacity of 1,635, which is 865 short of the Hockey East minimum of 2,500. The conference also requires 500 chair-back seats, of which Freitas currently has none.
This would create problems with the actual structure of the building. Fifty percent of it would need to be replaced in order to fit the new seats into the building.
The study recommends renovating the south side of the building, if that is what they choose to go with. However, they also say that it is a $25-30 million renovation for a building that is reaching the end of its life cycle.
They recommend knocking it down and building new if the plan is to bring competition back to campus, while renovation is the best choice if they will not be adding seats.
Populous outlined two plans for the construction of the new stadiums.
Option One is to do it all at once. This way, the project will be cheaper as the university can buy everything at the same time. However, baseball, soccer and softball will all have to be relocated for at least parts of two seasons.
They also could stagger the construction, which would decrease the relocation costs and amount of time each team would be displaced, but as the project would take longer as a whole, the overall cost would likely be larger.
Should the university put this project into place, it would bring the facilities for these sports up to par with some of the best in the country.