If you build it, they will come.
As the Penn softball team’s new stadium is being completed, the program is banking on the famous Field of Dreams mantra for next season — that a ballpark will attract better recruiting talent, as well as more fans, to their new home.
Several years in the making, the new stadium is part of the construction for Penn Park set to be completed next fall. Although the season ended just a week ago, many players are already looking ahead to next year in their new park.
“It’s definitely going to bring our team a lot of energy going into next season,” said sophomore second baseman Samantha Erosa, who started 31 games and hit .300 in a breakout season. “It’s probably going to be the nicest stadium in the Ivies.”
The new state-of-the-art facility will offer many features that the Red and Blue’s current home, Warren Field, does not. Built-in stands will replace the portable bleachers behind the backstop and there will be a media box behind home plate. An artificial surface, Sprinturf, will cover the outfield, providing honest bounces and eliminating divots.
Both Erosa and coach Leslie King are thankful of a simple addition many fans may not even notice.
“It sounds crazy, but it’s a really big deal that we’re going to have real bathrooms,” King said. “It’s not fun to be running off to the Porta-Potties in the middle of a doubleheader.”
Lights will also be a welcome component, as they will allow the team to play night games during the week, and players will be able to avoid conflicts with classes.
After years of planning, King can hardly believe the plans are finally coming to fruition.
“It really is happening, it’s really out there, and we’re really going to be playing there next year,” she said.
Each day as she walks by the site on the way to her office, she takes a glance at the construction.
“Every day they seem to be making more progress,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing. I literally do pinch myself.”
Most of all, King is excited about the advantages the new ballpark will provide in recruiting.
“We’re going to be able to offer something that none of the other Ivy League teams can offer as far as facilities, and I’m very, very optimistic that that’s going to be a big advantage for us,” King explained.
“We’re going to be able to offer kids not only the great education that Penn has but also what’s going to be a pretty big-time Division I softball experience … in a proper stadium, with lights and seating and the whole thing, overlooking downtown Philly. It’s going to be pretty impressive.”
When Erosa was being recruited, she said King brought plans of the new stadium to show her.
“That’s definitely a perk that I know I held onto as a recruit,” she said.
With the new location near Franklin Field, King is also hopeful that more students will be drawn to the games.
“This is going to put us in a much more adjacent place and a much more accessible place for students, so we’re definitely excited about that,” she said. “I think if you asked 100 students on campus today where Warren Field was, you’d be lucky if one of them could answer you.”
When school begins again next fall, Penn Park will certainly draw a great deal of attention and visitors. And when the spring season rolls around, King suggested students may want to give the new softball stadium a look as well.
“It’s going to be an experience going to a ballgame and playing in a ballgame there, and that’s what I think is going to make it really special.”Comments powered by Disqus
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