SIGNAL PEAK — Despite the season being canceled, work continues on Central Arizona College’s new baseball ballpark with an expected completion date of April 1.
“It looks great,” CAC baseball coach Anthony Gilich said. “They are just putting the finishing touches on it and it should be done in the next week or two.”
The $350,000 project began in August when the old grandstand consisting of a single section of metal bleachers and a shade cloth were demolished. However, actual construction of the new stadium grandstand didn’t begin until December when construction crews started moving dirt and poured the concrete footings.
Gilich told PinalCentral in August that he was hoping for the new stadium to be completed when the Vaqueros opened the season in January, however, athletic director Chuck Schnoor told PinalCentral in January that construction was progressing slower then he hoped. Schnoor added the reason for the delayed start of the project was because of the availability of labor and materials.
Despite the delays, Gilich said he is very pleased.
“It’s pretty nice,” he said. “It’s turning out great. It’s a little bit better then what I envisioned.”
When completed, the new stadium grandstand will wrap around the backstop area behind home plate and include a press box and a new PA system. It will also feature seat-back stadium seating.
“We are pretty pleased with it. I think the school deserves it,” Gilich said. “It’s a good space and hopefully with the new set up we will get some more people to come out and check out the games.”
In addition to the new grandstand, the project will also include a new backstop that will replace the current chain-link fencing with new netting that is similar to some of the spring training stadiums.
However, it won’t include new bathrooms.
Under the original plan, unveiled in August, there was hope to run plumbing out to the stadium that would set the stage for a second phase later which would add permanent bathrooms and concession facilities to the ballpark,
However, Gilich said that didn’t happen with this project.
“It’s something that we discussed but it was something that couldn’t get done in this phase in the renovation,” he said. “We want to make it happen but we don’t know when it’s going to happen.”
The new ballpark is a fitting upgrade for program that won its third national championship last year and has produced 166 players selected in the MLB draft, with 19 players making it to the majors, including three all-stars.
Gilich said the new and improved facility won’t hurt when it comes to recruiting and adds that it’s going to be the best ballpark in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.
“It’s going to be the top one once this is all done,” he said. “I don’t think anybody’s is as nice when you encompass everything from the roof, which is nice, the grandstands and the press box.”
At least when the Vaqueros get a chance to actually defend their national championship with a full season, they will do it in style.
“I think everyone is going to be ready to get out to the ballgames and I think people are going to be anxious to get on the field,” Gilich said. “Instead of it being half done. This way we can have our home opener and celebrate the fact that we got a cool new stadium.”