Next season, Northern Kentucky University’s baseball team will not only be Division I, but they will look the part as well. Renovations to the Bill Aker Baseball Complex began two weeks ago and are hoped to be completed by the first game of the 2013 season.
Renovations include putting in a new artificial turf on the infield, new fencing and foul poles. They are hoping to add additional improvements later on. Improvements aren’t only to make the field look its best, but also to improve the team’s play in any weather.
“The biggest benefit is now if it’s fifty degrees on January 1, the boys can be out there on that field,” Chris Hafling, associate athletic director for operations and event management, said. “Generally the ground is so hard and frozen. It really helps us out with weather because dirt fields would so easily rain us out where synthetic turf will just drain it off.”
The renovations are happening now because of the switch to the Division I, Atlantic Sun Conference and because the field needed overall upgrading. This is only one part to a hopefully bigger project, according to Hafling.
“This is stage one of enhancing our baseball facility,” Hafling said. “Some private donations and funding allowed us the opportunity to afford this right now.”
The renovations will cost a total of $500,000, which was all given by private donations and funding by the Go Gold campaign — an athletics fundraising campaign. It will allow for nicer fields and the rest of the renovations that are to be completed over the next several years.
“I think it puts us closer to D-I material,” said Todd Asalon, NKU’s head baseball coach. “The turf itself is really nice, but honestly, there is a lot more work to be done.”
According to Asalon these other renovations include lights, so that the team can have more home and night games; bleachers, so they can have somewhere for their fans to sit and watch and updated dugouts.
The Information Technology department is highly involved in the baseball project because it has helped install a camera on top of the Lucas Administrative Center that will capture still images looking at the baseball field allowing everyone to see the progress.
“It may end up helping us bring more teams to play at home,” Asalon said. “Knowing the game won’t get rained out will help out and we hope to bring more Northern teams on to play.”
If you would like to see the progress of the renovations taking place at the Bill Aker Baseball Complex go to www.nku.edu/~wellsdj/trash/image08500.jpg to get still images of what is happening.
“It will definitely be a new experience playing on turf,” Aric Harris, freshman right-handed pitcher and sports business major, said. “I think we’re all hoping that it will create a few more hits and cut down on our errors.”