Full speed ahead on Baker sports complex’s phase 3
Baker University officials got the green light to proceed with the third and final phase of improvements at the Charlie Richard Sports Complex, which includes a new track and artificial surface for the football field.
"The new facility improvements will represent one of the most important phases of our stadium project," said Dan Harris, Baker athletic director. "The turf and the track will enhance the stadium, allow us to recruit some of the top athletes and provide the community with a multiuse area for many events."
Construction is expected to begin sometime around Nov. 12, depending on how the football season winds down. Baker's final home game is Nov. 5, but the field is used for practice. Baldwin High School, which also plays its home games at Liston Stadium, is currently in the Class 4A state playoffs. Conceivably, the Bulldogs could have a home sub-state game Nov. 18.
The new artificial turf will feature synthetic grass on top of a deep layer of rubber pellets. Second-year Baker football coach Mike Grossner said the new surface would benefit all the teams that play home games at Liston Stadium.
"We will be able to practice at a more than adequate facility and not miss practice time because of weather concerns," Grossner said. "We can now sell our stadium in our recruiting efforts and our community's sports teams will benefit from a great surface."
The projected cost for the synthetic turf athletic field is $597,550. The eight-lane track is estimated to cost $589.614.
While construction can be delayed to accommodate potential post-season play, the same doesn't hold true for Baker or BHS's track teams. Neither will be able to use the track in the spring for practice or to host meets. Baldwin Junior High School also uses the track.
The improvements are welcomed ... and needed, according to both Baker and Baldwin School District officials.
"It'll be wonderful," said Supt. James White. "All the good things we've heard about the turf are such an improvement over what we've had this year. Having eight track lanes will be great for everyone, too.
"We don't know," White said about arrangements that can be made for the track season. "We're beginning some deliberation and discussion on that. The track coach and athletic director are looking at it. We're looking at as many options as possible."
Baker's track program is looking for options as well, said Baker Spokesman Steve Rottinghaus. All scheduled events planned on the track for spring 2006 will be cancelled or moved to other sites, Harris said.
While it's a problem for the track programs, and those community residents who utilize the track for walking, it will work out, they said.
"Yes, this track season is going to be a difficult time," said White. "It's no big problem to move a track meet, but practice time is another thing. But, we have creative, innovative track coaches and they will put a plan together."
Other improvements for the complex include paved parking lots on the northeast and southwest corners of Fremont at Second streets, estimated to cost $326,763. Improvements to the visitor bleachers at Liston Stadium and to the softball field are also part of the renovations.