The University of Connecticut’s plan to upgrade its athletic facilities in the southwest portion of campus recently went to bid. While much of the Request for Proposals document is legal jargon and paperwork, it does hold some new information.
The biggest change is that the school appears to be downsizing the baseball and soccer stadiums. When the feasibility study released in February, the new baseball stadium was set to hold 1,500 seats. That number dropped to 1,000.
It’s hard to tell if this reduction will be noticeable. JO Christian Field rarely draws that many, but a better stadium, along with more exposure from playing in Hartford, could bring more people to Storrs to see a game.
The new Morrone Stadium’s size has also been reduced from 5,500 to just 4,000. This is a huge drop which may have a bigger effect. The current Morrone Stadium holds 5,100 and there have been four sellouts over the past two seasons. The men’s soccer team has been one of the highest-drawing college soccer teams in the country.
Hopefully total capacity is higher with standing room. Both JO Christian Field and Morrone Stadium have lots of standing room only space and that will hopefully carry over to the new stadiums.
The document also included a three-phase timeline for the construction.
The first phase will begin in spring 2018. At this time, construction materials will be brought in and the staging will set up. They will relocate the throwing facilities for the track and field teams such as the hammer, discuss, javelin and shot put. While this happens, the baseball and softball teams will play their final seasons in their respective stadiums.
Once those seasons end, Phase II will begin. The baseball and softball facilities will be torn down which will open the door for construction of the new soccer stadium and performance center to begin. Work will also begin to improve the utilities and infrastructure of the area.
In the fall of 2018, the soccer teams will play their final season in Morrone Stadium while their new stadium is built across the street. Meanwhile, Baseball and softball will be forced off-campus for their 2019 seasons.
Softball will likely play at ECSU, since they already play a few early home games there when the weather is bad. Baseball will likely use a couple of different stadiums as a temporary home.
After the resounding success at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, they will likely try to play as many weekend games as possible there as the Yard Goats’ schedule allows. For midweek games and times the stadium is occupied, the Huskies will probably play at Eastern’s stadium. Dodd Stadium in Norwich will probably host a few games as well.
It seems like UConn is planning to get the construction done as soon as possible, even if it means pushing some sports off-campus for a season.
When the new stadiums are finally opened, UConn’s soccer, baseball, and softball teams will have facilities to match their recent history of success. The new stadiums should also help out on the recruiting trail.