A historic day for Golden Gopher baseball as the University of Minnesota Athletics department held a groundbreaking ceremony, today, June 11th, 2012, at Siebert Field. Approved by the University's Board of Regents on Friday, Gopher baseball held a groundbreaking event in front of fans, donors and media members.
President Eric Kaler opened the ceremony, followed by Director of Athletics Joel Maturi. "I thank former players and the baseball community for being patient," Maturi said. "It has not been easy. But it is now the beginning of a new era. Over these 20 years there has remained one constant, John Anderson. It is my hope that one day we play at Siebert Field, at Anderson Park."
The 1,400-seat facility is scheduled to begin construction June 18th with a complete demolition set in July. With additional berm seating, Siebert Field Phase 1 will also include provisions for future expansion that includes additional seating, locker rooms and training facility. The synthetic turf, designed by Mondo, is scheduled to be completed in September, with an estimated facility completion of December 2012. Constructed at the current site, the field will be lowered four feet from the original field level with home plate angled 35 degrees, which is currently between first and second base.
Head Coach John Anderson thanked Jim Pohlad, who was also in attendance, for the initial $2 million major gift towards the stadium. The Pohlad donation, announced on May 18, 2010, was the kick start Gopher baseball needed to begin the Siebert Field Legacy Campaign.
"This facility will be about honoring past tradition, making new traditions, and developing people who can go out in the world and make a difference," Anderson said.
Siebert Field was constructed in 1971 and originally called Bierman Field. The field was later dedicated in 1979 in honor of legendary head coach Dick Siebert, who passed away in December 1978. Prior to 1971, Minnesota played on Delta Field, which was located over the current left field wall. Since the 1971 construction, the Gophers held a 585-179-2 all-time record at the facility and a 458-155 mark being renamed Siebert Field. In the history of Siebert Field, the University of Minnesota hosted six Big Ten Tournaments, including the Gophers' 2004 Big Ten title win. The Gophers hosted both the 1974, 1977 and 2000 NCAA Regional, also at Siebert Field. Due to the venerable stadium, the Gophers have played a majority of their games at the Metrodome in recent years. Gopher baseball held its final game at Siebert Field, May 1, 2012, in a 9-2 win over St. Thomas.
Siebert Field campaign chairman and MLB Hall of Famer Paul Molitor said "We are going to hold our rightful place in college baseball. "This is a great day and we can only begin to look forward to what John (Anderson) and the University baseball team will do in the future."
Press Conference Quotes: Director of Athletics Joel Maturi:
"Sometimes dreams never become a reality and there are times when they take a long time to be fulfilled. This has been a dream for a new Siebert field for 20 years and on more than one occasion we came close, but it took 20 years and a day for it to become a reality. Now, three years after the opening of TCF Bank Stadium, we break ground on a new Siebert Field."
"And I thank former players and the baseball community for being patient. It has not been easy. But it is now the beginning of a new era."
"Over these 20 years there has remained one constant... John Anderson... It is my hope that one day we play at Siebert Field, at Anderson Park."
"You don't have great history and tradition unless you have cooperation from many, many different groups of people... and that's what we have here today... (the new stadium) wouldn't have happened without all the cooperation."
"This facility will be about honoring past tradition, making new traditions, and developing people who can go out in the world and make a difference."
"We've got work to do. This is a wonderful start, but we are not done. We're going to develop a facility where we can have (championship) moments again. We can bring baseball back here, and we can bring an NCAA tournament back here."
Gopher Alum and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor:
"My days as a Gopher playing (at Siebert) we're some of the most enjoyable days playing baseball in my life."
"We believe that having this facility... allows the NCAA to open its eyes and say `hey, these guys deserve to host an NCAA tournament' and that's our goal. That will be a special time to recreate some of that magic from 1977."
"We are going to hold our rightful place in college baseball...This is a great day and we can only begin to look forward to what John (Anderson) and the University baseball team will do in the future."