Just as baseball players are gearing up for TCU's debut season in the Big 12, Lupton Stadium is getting prepared with an array of new construction projects.
Work at the baseball facility includes wind guards, new fences and fence padding, expanded warning tracks and a newly excavated hill on the right-field side of the stadium.
The construction is the first phase of an $8 million master plan being predominantly funded by donors. This phase of construction will increase the safety and comfort of fans, players and maintenance crews, Ross Bailey, the associate director of athletics, said.
Bailey said the fences were moved in because of a combination between a lackluster offense and a need for room for maintenance crews. He said collegiate bat requirements and strong south winds made it difficult for batters to hit home runs, while crews needed more room to maneuver behind the outfield wall.
The walls moved in an average of 10 feet, he said, with the majority of the fence moving in at the middle of the field. The fence on the right-field line moved in five feet, while the left-field line wall stayed stationary, he said.
In addition to the fences, a popular fan attraction was removed from the stadium. The berm, formerly a popular place for children to slide down on cardboard boxes, was removed in place of a terraced hill with irrigation, landscaping and bleachers.
Bailey said the predominant reason for the hill excavation was liability.
“We had a lot of families who would turn kids loose,” he said. “They’d go slide down without a lot of supervision, and with balls flying around, our risk management team said we needed more of a controlled environment.”
Bailey said he hopes families will continue to grab the “organic feel” of the former berm by staying in the newly-terraced area, which Bailey said provides better sight lines for fans.
Future phases of construction will include upgraded locker rooms and training facilities for student-athletes as well as a student tailgating area beyond the left field wall, he said. The timing of future projects at Lupton Stadium will vary on need and available funding from donors, Bailey said.
Construction of the first phase will be complete by the time TCU plays Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 22. The home opener will be first event in the updated stadium.