Jeremy Zalacca, Associate Athletic Director for Athletic Communications
HICKORY – Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics has announced the beginning of the first phase of construction on its baseball facility. The first part of a three-phase upgrade will be the addition of an AstroTurf playing surface on which construction began last week. The field will be named in honor of Rhett Durham’s family and will be called Durham Field. The Durham family has long-standing ties to Lenoir-Rhyne University. Rhett graduated in 1995 and his daughter is an LR alumna, while his son is currently on the golf team.
“Upgrading our baseball facility with field turf is an important step toward advancing our strategic vision focused on enhancing the student-athlete experience across all Lenoir-Rhyne athletic programs,” said Kim Pate, vice president for Athletics. “This project wouldn’t be possible had it not been for the leadership of Coach Ramirez, our Advancement team, and, most importantly, a dedicated group of baseball alumni and friends who stepped up to support this campaign. We are excited to celebrate the announcement of the naming of our field in honor of the Durham Family and appreciate their longstanding support and unique ties to our campus and community.”
The project calls for a full field conversion which includes installing drainage as wells as utilizing the Diamond Series Baseball Turf, which would make LR one of a small number of Division II programs that uses the top-of-the-line surface. The Diamond Series allows for more customization to adjust the speed of the playing surface and is designed to replicate a high-level grass field mostly seen on the Division I and professional levels.
The entire field, infield and outfield as well as home and visiting bullpens, will be turfed and will be completed in time for the 2021 spring season. Additionally, home plate will move up seven feet to allow for more foul territory behind the plate and new foul poles will be installed.
“It is an exciting day for Lenoir-Rhyne baseball,” said second-year head baseball coach Chris Ramirez. “Our number one priority is always our players. From recruiting high impact players, retaining them and developing them to reach their full potential, the installation of a full artificial turf field directly enhances our ability to do these things.”
It will also make Lenoir-Rhyne the only South Atlantic Conference institution with a baseball field that has both lights and field turf. Additionally, the Bears will be the only NCAA Division II program in the state of North Carolina to have a fully turfed field.
“AstroTurf is the cream of the crop when it comes to Baseball Turf fields and we will have as nice of a baseball field as any program in the nation,” commented Ramirez. “I can’t say enough about all the work behind the scenes to make this happen in a very short time. It is great to be at a university fully committed to having one of the top NCAA baseball programs in the country and provide an experience for our student-athletes that is second to none.”
The second phase of the renovation is set to include the addition of grandstands with the final phase including a new press box. If you are interested in learning more about supporting the next two phases of the project, contact Aaron Bessey at email@example.com.
An official groundbreaking ceremony and video recap will take place on Monday, November 9.