Just two years ago, California's baseball program was preparing to head into its final Division I season, unless a frantic fundraising effort succeeded in saving it from the chopping block.
Not only did supporters save the program, but the future of Cal baseball now looks brighter than ever. The school announced Thursday that Evans Diamond, which has served as Cal's home field on campus since 1933, will receive a $2.25 million upgrade this spring, with the installation of a new sports lighting system and scoreboard.
Heading into the 2013 season, Cal is the only Pac-12 school without permanent lighting at its baseball field. When the Golden Bears found themselves in position to host a super regional in 2011, they had to scramble to find an adequate venue, eventually hosting Dallas Baptist at Santa Clara's stadium. The recent launch of the Pac-12 Networks made it imperative for Cal to install lighting, in order to maximize its opportunity to appear on television. The lights are scheduled to be ready in time for Cal's Pac-12 home opener on March 28 against Southern California.
"These facility improvements will mean so much to our baseball family and community," Cal coach David Esquer said in a release. "We look forward to night baseball at Evans Diamond giving more families a chance to experience Cal baseball. The persistence and will of our foundation, led by Stu Gordon, have made this possible, along with the cooperation of the campus and athletic department. We couldn't be more thankful."
The 38-foot-by-31-foot scoreboard will feature a full color video board and will be installed in left-center field. The entire project is scheduled for completion by June 2013. It will be funded by a combination of donations and increased ticket and sponsorship revenue as a result of the upgrade.
Gordon, a former Cal pitcher who was instrumental in the effort to preserve the program, helped spearhead this project as chairman of the Cal Baseball Foundation.
"This will be a dream come true and is almost unbelievable after well over 100 years that at long last we will be getting lights and a new video scoreboard at Evans Diamond," Gordon said in the release. "We have tried hard for years to make this dream a reality and now it is about to happen so that our first Pac-12 game this year against USC will be played under the lights. I can't tell you how excited I am on the prospect of having this finally become a reality."
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