Upon arriving on campus this fall, students were greeted by the mellow tones of bulldozers and beeps to the right of the William H. Bell Athletic Center (Bell Center). Construction workers have laid the turf, indicating that a renovated baseball diamond will soon join the lineup of facilities on Trinity’s campus. However, carrying out this large-scale project has resulted in water main breaks and the task of coping with COVID restrictions.
Seth Asbury, Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Event Management, oversees facilities and sporting events and understands the many hurdles the creation of the new baseball field has brought.
“We were supposed to start this project before the pandemic, but as renovations had to be put on hold, we started construction last summer. … [The field] should be done by Thanksgiving,” Asbury said.
Tyler Pettit, a fourth-year Trinity student and catcher for the Trinity University baseball team, had to rethink his fall baseball practice due to construction.
“We haven’t had access to a pitch so our main practice is trying to get physically stronger,” Pettit said.
Due to a lack of access to a traditional baseball facility, the process of preparing for the spring baseball season has become repetitive.
“When you don’t have a field and you’re not playing baseball, you get a little restless running around and lifting weights week after week,” Pettit said.
According to Asbury, any construction project requires planning, but with the baseball field’s location in the middle of campus, the construction team had to carefully avoid water and utility lines.
“The pitch is at least thirty years old, the lights were fifty years old, so all the electrical wiring had to be changed. … We broke a few water pipes during construction,” Asbury said.
The baseball field renovations have not only restricted access to the facility, but the U parking lot is occupied by piles of white dirt and machinery where students would normally park.
Another side effect of the construction is the limited access to the Pittman tennis courts (located near the Bell Center and the Thomas residence). Due to the lumber, tubing and machinery cluttering the courts, the limited space available leaves the Pittman courts only usable for playing pickleball. Hélène Le Gall, an environmental studies junior and Spanish double major and vice-president of the club’s tennis team, knows that the Pittman courts have been unusable for playing tennis since her freshman year.
The lack of communication about the future of Pittman Courts students is Le Gall’s main frustration. “There is no signage or explanation of what the materials do there if they go missing and what will happen to the courts,” Le Gall said.
Once the baseball field renovations are complete, there will be more parking and recreational tennis. “The U lot and the courts have been a holding site for all construction material. Once construction is complete, everything will be cleaned up and the [Pittman courts] will be usable space again,” Asbury said.
Although the Butch Newman Tennis Center, Al G. Hill Jr. Stadium and Pittman Tennis Courts are available to the tennis community in Trinity, all of these facilities are shared by the men’s, women’s and junior tennis teams. club as well as any alumni and faculty who wish to use the spaces.
“We want to make sure the courts are accessible to everyone. Usually scheduling isn’t too much of an issue, but when there are tournaments for both men’s and women’s teams, the club team has to switch spaces,” said Le Gall.
According to Le Gall, to accommodate the limited space on the tennis courts due to the renovation of the baseball field, the existing tennis courts should be made as accessible as possible.
“Lock the courts less, add lights to the Hill courts and leave the lights to the Bell courts after 10 p.m. [would make the courts more accessible]“, said Le Gall.
According to Asbury, the campus renovations are ultimately a sign of progress for the Trinity community.
“As the campus continues to grow and improve, we want to ensure that we provide facilities for all students who wish to use these spaces. … It’s great when we can all work together through frustrations and look forward to the final product,” Asbury said.