UF baseball gets new diamond

Honorees broke ground Friday afternoon at the site of the future stadium for the Florida baseball team.

Eleven honorees with baseball bat-shaped shovels commenced the building of the new UF baseball stadium as they began digging Friday.

About 150 people, including baseball donors, former UF baseball players and families, gathered at the groundbreaking of UF’s new baseball stadium at a former UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research property near Ronald A. Dizney Stadium.

The baseball team will continue to play the next two seasons at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium while the new ballpark is being constructed, said Dan Apple, a sports information director.

The stadium will cost about $65 million and is scheduled to be finished in June 2020, Apple said.

There is no name for the stadium yet.

IFAS will receive new facilities in the future for the stadium to be built on the research's property, said UF President Kent Fuchs.

“We’re very fortunate that the university had the land,” Fuchs said at the groundbreaking.

Construction is planned to begin in coming weeks, said Scott Stricklin, the UF athletic director.

“We have a national championship program and national championship-caliber fans,” Stricklin said. “They deserve a ballpark to go along with that.”

In the past decade, the team has made eight College World Series appearances, including a national championship in 2017.

The new ballpark will feature shaded structures and a 360-degree concourse, Apple said.

McKethan Stadium has 5,500 seats, including about 2,500 chairbacks, Apple said. The new stadium will seat a projected 10,000, including more than 4,000 chairback seats.

Players will have access to a private nutrition area, team lounge, team meeting room, expanded locker rooms and indoor pitching and batting cages in the new stadium.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t pinch myself,” said Kevin O’Sullivan, the baseball coach.

Evan Lepak is a Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida, currently covering UF baseball. He's also covered both UF cross country and UF swimming and diving. He has been with the Alligator since Summer 2018.