Nov. 12, 2012
Story Written by Chelsea White
University of Minnesota athletic communications student intern
The University of Minnesota baseball team traded in their cleats for work boots early Saturday morning, Nov. 10, 2012, to help with the construction of their new field. With rain sprinkling down, players and coaches gathered to put in grass sod on the outer berms of the new Siebert Field. Construction of the new field began after a groundbreaking ceremony back in June and has progressed throughout the year; team members of the baseball program were given this chance to be a part of the whole process.
In all, 32 players, three coaches and facility staff members gathered around to lay sod. The team covered about 35,000 square feet on the exterior of the stadium grounds, which surrounds about 90 percent of the stadium. The Dugout Club later provided food for the hungry workers.
"We watched the progress all fall so it's kind of cool to be a part of it," said senior catcher Kurt Schlangen. "Coach Fornasiere said earlier that for us as a team to see the end result and to see all our hard work pay off it will be worth it. It is cool to already see the grass and just walking in and seeing the grass berms they had already done is pretty cool the whole field is just coming together."
The Minnesota baseball team has been playing the majority of their regular season home games at the Metrodome for a number of years, so the team, coaches, and fans are all looking forward to the upcoming season at Siebert Field. For the team, not only will they be able to be the first team to play on the new field, but being a part of the construction process means they are being a part of Minnesota baseball history.
"We are just trying to do our part with the construction of the field," Bobby Juan said. "Our coach gave us a talk earlier that a lot of people put in a lot of money to help us get this field so the least thing that we can do it put some of our time and make it an atmosphere for our fans. They are the ones who support us, they get the new field just as much as we do."
The labor of the sod laying included a lot of time and energy as the morning rain and cold weather opted for an experience that proved that the team is willing to do what they can so they can play on the new outside field.
"I think that it is a huge team bonding exercise where we can all get out here and put up some sweat and some work into our new field to try and make it look as good as possible," senior pitcher Billy Soule said. "Being up at 8 a.m. to do this is going to make our team stronger; it is going to make the team want to play better here because we had an impact on how nice the field looked.
Although the official season has not started yet, the team has had the opportunity to practice on the field, where players feel it is an advantage to be able to get some ground work in.
"It is a big advantage to get to learn the way the field plays and just get used to the environment. Getting to see the back drop and seeing how the ball reads off it, it is a big advantage to get some practice in before the season starts," said Juan.
The official 2012-13 season schedule has not been released yet, but the Gophers predict that they will be playing at Siebert in April 2013. Although that is months away, Minnesota baseball is ready to have the season get underway.
"I know everyone is excited, I am excited, the coaching staff, the fans, the alumni, they are really excited to get the first season underway at Siebert Field, so I think it is going to be a good one," Soule said.