On Feb. 11, Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger announced that an anonymous donor had made a $60 million donation to fund the construction of a brand new complex for Binghamton’s varsity baseball team on campus. Now, nearly seven months after the initial announcement of the largest gift in school history, the project is inching closer to the beginning of construction.
“Things are progressing nicely and construction is on track,” said Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at BU. “We could not be more excited to see this fully funded donor project come to fruition, as this generous and historic donation will provide Binghamton athletics with a world-class facility for our student-athletes. The first phase of this 17-month project, now underway, will be demolition and utility relocations and installations.”
While ground has yet to be broken, the demolition phase has begun. The tennis courts, which are being demolished to make room for the project’s indoor training facility, have had their nets removed, and the fences surrounding them have been taken down. Additionally, equipment belonging to ZMK Construction is located on the site.
“It’s very exciting to drive into campus or look out my office window and see construction taking place,” said Binghamton baseball head coach Tim Sinicki.
The facility, once completed, will include a brand-new stadium around the existing field as well as the indoor training facility. The stadium will have a seating capacity of 1,500, an increase from the current 464, as well as a VIP lounge and press suites. The training facility will contain batting cages and a full-size infield.
The project was initially scheduled to begin shortly after Stenger’s announcement and was supposed to be completed in time for the 2021 baseball season, but the project was delayed due to initial construction bids exceeding the project’s budget. In March, John Hartrick, the associate athletics director of communications and sports information, said that the short time frame in which construction was supposed to be completed made the bids pricier than expected. As a result, the University rejected all of the initial bids and relaxed the timing of the schedule.
The project was further delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced all nonessential workers to stay at home in New York state. Construction was considered a nonessential business, but it fell under Phase 1 of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening plan, meaning it was one of the first industries allowed to bring workers back to the workplace. The Southern Tier entered Phase 1 on May 15.
As of now, no announcements have been made with regard to the baseball team’s schedule for the spring of 2021 — the situation remains fluid due to the pandemic. However, the project will not be completed by the spring of 2021, which means that the baseball team will need to locate a temporary home if the season is played on time. Last season, the team was supposed to play the majority of its home games in NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton before the season was shelved because of the pandemic. According to Hartrick, the team is likely to pursue a similar venue in 2021.