IN THE SHADOW OF GLEAMING HUSKY Stadium, construction continues on another remodeled athletic facility, one that is arguably an even more dramatic upgrade. Husky Ballpark officially opens for business on March 21, but it’s already boosting a baseball program looking to raise its national profile.
Coach Lindsay Meggs happily reports that a 9th grader and a 10th grader from Southern California—both expected to be among the most highly prized West Coast recruits in their classes—paid for their own weekend visits recently because of the buzz the new ballpark is generating. The recruiting advantage the facility may trigger bodes well for the future, but the more immediate rewards belong to fans and current players. The seating capacity jumps to 2,406 (from 1,500) and season-ticket plans will be available for the first time ever. Concessions, a team store and indoor restrooms are new luxuries—not to mention the covered areas that will provide shelter during rain delays.
The new amenities will make Husky baseball “an event and not just a game,” says Meggs. Fans will now have “the chance to see a ballgame in a minor league-style ballpark with a view like no other of Lake Washington from every inch of the concourse.” The 2012 completion of the Wayne Gittinger Team Building—featuring large locker rooms, a lounge, a video room and training facilities—enhanced the player experience, and the new ballpark provides further benefits. A concourse will lead players directly from the locker room to their dugout, akin to a big-league experience. The Team Performance Center adjacent to the field offers batting cages and indoor practice space.
Of course, results are what matter most. For Coach Meggs, Husky Ballpark brings the potential for postseason play—both as a host and a participant. “Part of the conversation when I was offered this job was that the route to the College World Series is hosting an NCAA Regional and getting to host a Super Regional,” he says. —Paul Fontana