Cal Poly is starting to make long-awaited additions to Robin Baggett Stadium, the school’s baseball venue. The additions include new backstop netting, permanent bleacher seats and an upgraded team clubhouse.
The netting and seating additions are expected to be finished by the beginning of the season, according to Associate Athletic Director Ashley Offermann. If demolition and construction runs on schedule, Offermann expects the clubhouse to be finished by the end of the year.
The short-term projects — adding new backstop netting and more permanent seating — are intended to improve the fan experience. The new netting, which will replace the original stadium netting, will improve sightlines for spectators.
Permanent bleachers on the plaza level will replace temporary seating. The total permanent seating will increase from 745 to about 3,150 seats, which will cost as much as $1.2 million, according to Offermann. Expansion of permanent seating in Baggett Stadium was previously expected to start almost 12 years ago, but an economic downturn put those plans on hold.
The Dignity Health Baseball Clubhouse will replace the current Monty Waltz Clubhouse, which Offerman says was an afterthought with the construction of the field.
“It’s definitely lived its useful life,” Offermann said. “For a top-25 program, we want to see a top-25 facility.”
The next phase of the clubhouse project is to secure a contractor for construction, which Offermann said should happen in mid-February. This should put demolition of the current clubhouse on track for the beginning of March, but design plans need approval from a busy California state fire marshal before construction of the new clubhouse can begin.
Construction of the clubhouse will last approximately nine to 10 months, according to contracting estimates given to Offermann. The estimated cost is $5 to $7 million.
The construction will bring some short-term inconveniences, like having to use portable lockers when the current clubhouse goes. However, the long-term results are promising.
“The end-game is going to be great,” head coach Larry Lee said. “It’s going to be possibly the nicest clubhouse on the West Coast.”
The new clubhouse will be a considerable upgrade from the current Monty Waltz Clubhouse. The future two-story building will have amenities for players, coaches and even donors.
The first floor will be primarily for players. Space for sports medicine and athletic training rooms, including cold-therapy and hot-therapy pools, will be added. The locker room will be large enough that Lee will not have to address his team in the outfield anymore. The plans also include a kitchen to maintain nutrition standards.
The second floor will house coaches’ offices, an academic center, a video room and a general lounge area. During games, the lounge area will be open to supporters of the project.
Lee said the clubhouse may help the program attract top recruits.
“High school kids are very impressionable,” Lee said. “If you can sway a couple of top recruits to come here instead of elsewhere [in California], it can be a huge payoff.”
Even though the current quality of baseball facilities is not on par with other big programs, it is still a big change from what most young players experience before college.
“At my high school we didn’t really have anything at all,” freshman infielder Tate Samuelson said. “Coming here [with] the weight room and the clubhouse is completely different from what I was used to.”
If the current clubhouse is a step-up for most recruits, the updated facilities will attract a whole new tier of athletes. Hopefully for Lee and the Mustangs, better recruiting classes will lead to more postseason appearances.
“[If] Coastal Carolina can win a national championship, there’s no reason Cal Poly can’t,” Offermann said.