After a year of construction, Binghamton University officially opened its new athletic facilities on Friday.
Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger and Athletic Director Patrick Elliott hosted the ceremonial grand opening, which was attended by Assemblywoman Donna A. Lupardo and state Senator Thomas W. Libous, as well as several BU sports teams.
“Our hope is that these new state of the art facilities will give our coaches and student-athletes an even greater edge to recruit and train, while competing for conference championships and NCAA tournament awards,” Elliott said.
The opened facilities include a renovated baseball field and tennis courts, as well as a new softball field.
“I believe that probably right now we can say that we have the best sports complex in the American East,” Stenger said.
Senator Libous said the new fields add to the ongoing endeavor to make BU competitive at the Division I level.
“This is the quality for Binghamton University as a Division I school,” Libous said. “This puts us up right in with the big schools. It ranks with the academics and overall quality of this University.”
The renovated tennis facility includes 12 new courts with cushion surface on six of them, in addition to a center promenade for spectators and coaches, concrete walkways and new windscreens.
“The new courts are a big improvement from last year,” said Michael Gross, a member of the men’s tennis team and a sophomore majoring in psychology. “The [previous] courts had a lot of cracks and it was just too vintage.”
The baseball field added a natural grass surface with irrigation and drainage, stadium seating and a 30-foot center field batter’s eye.
Bijan Mangouri, an infielder on the baseball team and a senior majoring in biology, said he was happy with the new field.
“It’s just incredible to have a place to call home now,” Mangouri said. “Last year we spent almost every game on the road because we didn’t have a home field.”
The softball field was moved from the east side of campus to a spot behind the Events Center. The new field has natural grass surface, bullpens with batting cages down each foul line and an 8-foot outfield fence.
“I think [the new field] is great,” said Shannon Kane, an outfielder for the softball team and a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “They are beautiful and really represent us as a community and a university.”
Both the baseball and softball fields added professional-style dugouts and professional-grade dirt, as well as a press box, sound system and wiring for additional lighting.
BU men’s basketball coach Tom Dempsey said the University’s sports facilities should reflect the level at which BU competes.
“I think that most importantly, we’re playing Division I baseball, softball, tennis and we want to have facilities that scream we are Division I,” Dempsey said.
John Hartrick, BU’s associate director of athletics for communications, said he believes the new facilities will benefit both students and spectators.
“Each facility has a spectator component that has been upgraded,” Hartrick said. “Both our students on campus and the community will have a much better opportunity to just be comfortably seated and enjoy the action.”
Stenger said he believes that the new facilities will make attending games more enjoyable, which in turn may make teams more successful.
“The students will find it more comfortable to come to a game,” Stenger said. “You’ve got a concession stand right behind here, you’ve got really nice seats, a really good team. Then that makes the players play harder and enjoy playing a little better, and that helps to recruit better students.”