NIU Baseball to see upgrades

By Justin Kelley

DeKALB — NIU athletics announced Wednesday that the baseball program will be getting upgrades in the near future. NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier announced the plan will happen in four phases.

“Over the past several years, it has become apparent that in order to continue the momentum of our baseball program, and taking into consideration our location and the college baseball calendar, we must move forward with a significant project to improve our baseball facility,” Frazier said in an NIU Athletics article. 

In those phases, Ralph McKinzie Field will be receiving a face lift with the infield and outfield being converted to artificial turf, additional lights, renovations to bullpens and dugouts. The ballpark will also dawn a new name as Walt and Janice Owens Park, according to the NIU athletics article.

There also will be upgrades to the surrounding area of the field by replacing the bleachers with a grandstand, a new press box, permanent restrooms and concessions area. Adding to those renovations, there will be a new indoor hitting facility with covered bullpens and will be renamed after former Head Coach Dave Mason, according to the NIU athletics article.  

“We are fortunate to have two pioneering coaches in Walt Owens and Dave Mason, who have thrown their support behind this project and will allow us to honor them in the process. I know that not only student-athletes, but everyone from the university, the community and beyond who have benefited from their wisdom and coaching will get behind this project and enable it to come to fruition.” Frazier said in an NIU Athletics article.

NIU Athletics said the renovations and additions will cost around $4 million and will be collected entirely by private gifts. The first renovation will be the installation of the infield turf, the other projects will come later, time of completion will be determined on financial support and interest, according to the NIU athletics article.