BERKELEY -- After an unofficial announcement was made by Stu Gordon before the Alumni Game back on Oct. 21, today the California baseball program officially announced the implementation of dramatic facility improvements to Evans Diamond, which has served as the home of the Golden Bears since 1933,
The improvement include a new sports lighting system and scoreboard, scheduled for later this spring.
“These facility improvements will mean so much to our baseball family and community,” said head coach David Esquer, who led the Bears to the College World Series and was named the National Coach of the Year in 2011. “We look forward to night baseball at Evans Diamond giving more families a chance to experience Cal baseball. The persistence and will of our foundation, led by Stu Gordon, have made this possible, along with the cooperation of the campus and athletic department. We couldn't be more thankful.”
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Eight, 90-foot light poles will be erected around Evans Diamond that will support nighttime television broadcasts, team practice and training. Additional lighting will be added to assist with fan access and safety around the stadium.
A modern electronic scoreboard, measuring 38 feet wide by 31 feet high, will also be installed in left-center field, replacing the outdated George Wolfman Scoreboard structure that currently resides in right field. The new scoreboard will offer scoring, game information, as well as fixed advertising and a full color video board measuring 24 feet wide by 14 feet high.
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Entering the 2013 season, Cal is the only Pac-12 school without permanent lighting at its baseball facility, and that will end on or around March 28 -- the Pac-12 opener against USC -- when the lights are tentatively scheduled to be completed. With the recent launch of the Pac-12 Networks, the ability to play night games will give Cal maximum opportunity to be televised by the Networks. In addition, the upgrades will allow the Bears to be eligible to host NCAA Regional contests at Evans.
“The baseball lights project and video board upgrade are game-changing for our baseball program,” said Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. “Not only will it impact attendance, fan experience and community engagement opportunities, but it will have a significant impact on the academic experience for our baseball student-athletes. The scheduling flexibility created by these upgrades will allow our student-athletes to dramatically decrease their missed class time, and provide additional evening hour facilities for our community. We are grateful to the baseball community for their passionate support of these enhancements on behalf of current and future baseball Golden Bears.”
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The entire project has a budget of $2.25 million and is scheduled for completion by June 2013. It will be funded by a combination of donations and increased ticket and sponsorship revenue as a result of the upgrade. The project is being designed by Brereton Architects of San Francisco and will be constructed under the direction of Overaa Construction of Richmond.
“This will be a dream come true and is almost unbelievable after well over 100 years that at long last we will be getting lights and a new video scoreboard at Evans Diamond,” said Gordon, chairman of the Cal Baseball Foundation and a former pitcher for the Bears (1961-62). “We have tried hard for years to make this dream a reality and now it is about to happen so that our first Pac-12 game this year against USC will be played under the lights. I can’t tell you how excited I am on the prospect of having this finally become a reality. Thanks to everyone involved for helping to make this happen.”
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The upgrades to the facility provides the opportunity for future installation of a synthetic field, much like the field at PK Park in Eugene, Ore., home of the Ducks. In partnership with Campus Recreational Sports, Cal Athletics may elect to install an all weather surface, allowing expanded scheduling for the entire student population, when not in use by the Cal baseball team.
The Bears' 2013 schedule features 26 home games at Evans Diamond, including hosting a three-game series against Michigan, Feb. 15-17 in Berkeley to open the 2013 campaign. Cal will also be hosting Pac-12 series versus USC, Oregon, Washington State, Arizona State and Stanford this spring in Berkeley. The Bears unofficially open the season with the second annual Fan Fest, on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Evans Diamond, as well. Following the Fan Fest festivities, there will be a Blue-Gold intrasquad scrimmage beginning at 1 p.m.