UK Baseball Team Gets First Look at "Incredible, Unbelievable" Stadium
Former Kentucky baseball coach Keith Madison once had a dream about a day like Saturday. A day when the Wildcat baseball team would move into a new home.
“One thing I always think about, when I think about this stadium, in 1984, I remember sitting in the bleachers at Cliff Hagan Stadium after practice,” Madison said. “I was sort of thinking and dreaming and a couple of my players came by and asked me what I was doing. I said I was thinking about a new baseball stadium. They asked me what it would look like and I described it to them, but this is 20 times bigger and better than I dreamed. It’s spectacular.”
The construction process is still ongoing on the $49 million stadium, but head coach Nick Mingione was able to take his team into the team areas of the stadium for the first time on Saturday.
As the team entered its new state-of-the-art locker room, there were lots of high-fives, big smiles and vocal approval from the entire squad.
“After going to five SEC stadiums last season, this is better than all of them,” sophomore pitcher Carson Coleman said. “(The coaches) kept saying it, and of course you have to wait until you see it, but this is insane. This place is unbelievable. It’s going to be great for the program. It’s really awesome.”
The immediate benefits to the 2019 Wildcats are obvious. Hitting and pitching areas under the stadium. Training rooms that will rival any school in the country. And many, many other advantages that the Kentucky baseball program has never had.
But it’s not just the immediate impact for this year’s team. It’s the impact that this facility can have on the UK program for many years to come.
“Being a former coach, the first thing I think of is recruiting,” Madison said. “When a 14, 15, 16 year old young man comes in here with his family and sees this, it’s going to blow them away.”
For the average fan, the new stadium will take the experience of attending a Kentucky game to a whole new level.
“The fan experience is going to be really incredible,” Madison said. “The word is going to get out that this is going to be a happening and I think a lot of the people who are baseball fans in the community and in Central Kentucky that maybe never really thought about coming to a UK baseball game, I think they’re going to want to come now.”
Madison also thinks that people in the baseball community will soon learn how special this new stadium is.
“All of the details that some people won’t even notice,” Madison said. “To the media, the umpires and all of the people who make it work, they’re going to notice them. The word is going to get out across the baseball world and people all over the country are going to want to see it.”
While the general public will have to wait a little longer to see the stadium, the immediate reviews by the players and the program’s former head coach were extremely positive.