UCD softball facility to get lights in big facelift

By From page B1 | May 29, 2014

A week after campus officials broke ground for a new field hockey facility, word comes from UC Davis Athletic Director Terry Tumey that the university’s softball stadium, La Rue Field, will get a complete facelift in 2015.

“I feel this is the right investment ($3.3 million to $4.3 million) to make for softball. (California) has such great softball,” Tumey told The Enterprise. “There is no reason why UC Davis shouldn’t be part of the conversation as it relates to being competitive in softball.”

Among the improvements to the facility at the corner of Russell Boulevard and La Rue Road will be stadium lights, covered bullpens, upgraded seating with a capacity of at least 500, a new scoreboard, press box and permanent concession stand and restrooms.

Tumey said the new-look field will be ready for the Aggies in 2016.

In the pre-Division I days, the facility was home to myriad NCAA D-II regional tournaments. In 2003, the Aggies won the division’s national championship.

Stadium improvements and the field-hockey facility are part of a long-range vision that Tumey sees as centralizing not only intercollegiate athletics facilities and administrative offices on the west end of campus, but protecting club and intramural programs while making upgrades to Dobbins and Aggie stadiums.

Tumey said eventually, track and field could have a new facility where the Dairy Teaching and Research Facility now stands. (According to UCD officials, the Dairy Barn, as it’s known, is expected to move elsewhere in 2016.) He added that the IM fields north of Hutchison Road and the Dairy Practice Field across the street will remain as they are as athletics expand in that area.

“We have, basically, a master plan that we’ve discussed here on campus,” Tumey continued. “This is all part of the strategic vision of intercollegiate athletics.

“La Rue is considered an athletic corridor for our university … and not just for intercollegiate athletics. Our club programs and other athletic activities are going to be instilled into that entire area.”

Within walking distance southeast of the softball stadium stands The Pavilion, an 8,000-seat venue for basketball, gymnastics, volleyball and various student uses. Nestled behind that is baseball’s Dobbins Stadium — a 23-year-old ballpark that saw countless hours of volunteer work make it a reality under former baseball coach Phil Swimley.

In all those years, it has yet, literally, to see the light.

Tumey believes lights equal increased baseball attendance for the 3,000-seat diamond.

“We would hope that would be the best blessing UC Davis could have,”  said the former UCLA football standout and ex-Bruin coach.

Lights at both La Rue and Dobbins stadiums will give both programs a chance to increase revenue with larger evening crowds and the ability to host tournaments. Revamped or new facilities — commensurate with other D-I schools’ facilities — will help attract the student-athletes so coveted by coaches and fans, Tumey said.

“Our student-athletes are amazing people and amazing students … and to give them the opportunity to showcase their talents on the field of play just completes the circle in what UC Davis is all about,” he added.

Notes: Under longtime coach Karen Yoder, the Aggie softball team went 21-33 (7-10 at home) this spring after losing ace hurler Justine Vela for the season in the first inning of her campaign’s first game. … Seating at LaRue Field will be configured in three sets of bleachers, each angled toward the action. The static concessions will be among creature comforts long overdue, says Nona Richardson, executive senior associate athletics director, who adds: “A better game-day experience has been a major priority with the renovations. We want our fans to look forward to coming to watch the Aggies play.” … The bulk of the La Rue Field construction money comes from donations and a capital-improvement budget, according to Tumey, who adds that UCD could carry some debt (based on continued donations, which may increase with the announcement of plans). … Dugout alterations also are possible, according to Tumey.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.

Bruce Gallaudet

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