baseball Edit

Major Ole Miss baseball stadium renovation nears completion

OXFORD | The majority of Oxford-University Stadium’s latest renovation will be completed by opening day.

Spectators get first glimpse at the $20 million project when the Rebels host Winthrop on February 16 to open the 2018 season. Work will continue on the facility until all improvements are completed by sometime in early April.

This upgrade is centered around many updated and new amenities for the players, including a new clubhouse, hitting and pitching facilities, training room, 9,000 square feet of weight room space and meeting areas. There hadn’t been a significant clubhouse renovation since the stadium opened in 1989.

[Related: O-U Stadium renderings]

The clubhouse will be on the first base side, as opposed to the current one on the third base side, so at some point this season the Rebels will move to their permanent home in the opposite dugout. The structure will also give former players who are in town training during the offseason their own locker room.

For the fans, Ole Miss is introducing a field club level and new box seats behind home plate that have improved sight lines. The field club will have expected amenities including food, tables, lockers and television screens. There will also be a rooftop plaza down the first base side.

“They construction people worked right through the holidays,” Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said. “We’ll go right up against opening day, but most of the fan experiences will be complete by then. It’s an exciting thing, and we’re happy with the schedule of completion.”

Bjork said some of the locker room and weight room areas as well as the rooftop area are items that won’t be completed next month. When all is completed, there will be a glass wall allowing the field club occupants a view as players move from clubhouse to dugout.

While normal box seats remain all the way around the grandstand, the field club box seats are in the lower area between the dugouts. There are approximately 330 of those, and 26 remain available for purchase as of Tuesday.

There is also new netting, new field turf around the perimeter and the walls above the box seats and between the stairs to each section will be brick.

Fans shouldn’t expect a major construction hindrance the first few weeks of the season.

“The big thing will be right field and that right side,” Bjork said. “One of the tunnels that enter the building will be closed, but that shouldn’t be an impact. The main part of the stadium will be open, and most people enter from the street side. Capacity crowds could see a little congestion, but we’ll be complete for the majority of SEC play.

“I’m excited for people to see the tangible product and the club area. Before we have only been able to show concrete and renderings, but I think excitement will really pick up when you can see the difference.”

The entire project is 42,000 square feet with 90 percent of it geared toward the players. While the fan portion of Swayze Field has been one of the top stadiums nationally, the facility had lagged behind others in the conference from a player amenity standpoint. Ole Miss completed its major grandstands renovation in 2009.

“We needed to make things better for our student-athletes, and this does that,” Bjork said. “We’re in the final stretch of making our great venue even better.”