Sunday, March 29 was supposed to be UConn baseball’s first game in Elliot Ballpark, the brand-new, 1,500-seat on-campus stadium that replaced the much-maligned JO Christian Field. Instead, the wait to open the facility will stretch on another year after the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled collegiate athletics.
“We’ve waited 17 years for that ballpark to come online. Unfortunately, we have to wait for one more,” UConn baseball head coach Jim Penders said in a Twitter video on Sunday. “We’re all tending to more important things right now.”
Despite the coronavirus outbreak, construction will continue on Elliot Ballpark along with the new soccer and softball stadiums as well as the practice recreation fields, according to the school. While the construction crews have taken heightened safety measures to protect themselves against the virus, everything remains on schedule.
Elliot Ballpark would’ve been ready to host games but it’s still not 100 percent finished. The press box isn’t completed yet (though it would have been if the season wasn’t cancelled) while the concession stands and restrooms weren’t going to be ready for this year anyways. Instead those will open when the first pitch is thrown in 2021.
The new 4,000-seat soccer stadium — Joseph. J. Morrone Stadium at the Rizza Family Soccer Complex — is also expected to be ready for the start of the new seasons in August. The turf will be laid over the summer, which will allow both programs to use it for their respective preseasons, which begin in early August, hopefully.
Currently, the west and south stands are in place while the footings for the main stands on the east side are set. The two buildings that flank the west stand along Jim Calhoun Way are beginning to rise up as well.
While the performance center isn’t expected to be fully completed until roughly mid-October, certain parts of it (such as locker rooms and training rooms) will be ready for use at the beginning of the year. Work on the new softball stadium wasn’t anticipated to begin until the season ended, so that part of the project is still a few months off.