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Iowa may build new baseball stadium

University of Iowa officials are exploring the possibility of building a new baseball stadium.

"It's got to be done, it needs to be done," Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm told the Metro Sports Report on Thursday.

The Hawkeyes currently play at Duane Banks Baseball Field, which was built in 1974 and has 3,000 seats. Dahm said the facility is not as good as most of the other stadiums in the Big Ten or Missouri Valley Conference.

"We're at the bottom of the barrel," he remarked.

Dahm said Gary Barta, Iowa's director of athletics, has encouraged him to explore options for a new stadium.

"This is just in the infancy part," Dahm stressed. "We're just starting to talk. We don't have any plans in place."

Duane Banks Field is located in the middle of the UI sports complex, between Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "I love our location, because it's right in the middle of all the athletic facilities," Dahm said.

He estimated it might cost $5 million to demolish the current baseball park and build a new stadium in the same location, or it might cost $15 million to build a new stadium on the west end of campus near the UI field hockey and soccer facilities. Possible off-campus locations will be considered as well, including locations north of I-80.

"It could be 10 years away, or if you get the right situation it could be three years," Dahm said.

 

The Iowa baseball team currently has locker rooms, training rooms, a lounge and weight room in the Recreation Building, which is adjacent to the ballpark. If the Hawkeyes stay in the same location, they would not have to build new support areas, reducing the cost of the project.

 

The location of a new baseball park also could be determined by future needs of the UI football program and the UI Hospitals & Clinics, which are clustered in the area.

Dahm said a new stadium could further help recruiting. He said recruiting is going well, but added the prospect of playing in a new stadium could help even more.

Dahm said he has commitments from seven in-state seniors for this year's class and already has six commitments from high school juniors. "We need to get a little momentum with a facility as well," he said.

Dahm said building a new stadium could become a joint venture between the university and private partners, with a new stadium possibly shared by the Hawkeyes and an Independent League team or a team from the Northwoods League (a summer college league).

"We're in the process of trying to decide what we're going to do and where we're going to build," he said. "We need to get something done. I'd like to speed up the process as quickly as possible."

Dahm said many new stadiums have been built - or will be built - in the Big Ten and Missouri Valley Conference, leaving the Hawkeyes further behind. He said he plans to "get more aggressive" and actively promote the concept of building a new park.

He indicated a new ballpark would include luxury suites and club seating.

Duane Banks Field has lights for night games, thanks to a $245,000 gift from former UI player and major leaguer Cal Eldred.

Last Updated ( Friday, 27 May 2011 00:42 )  

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