Video: USF athletic district construction ...
After flying back from Pittsburgh on Friday morning, I had the chance to don a hard hat and take a quick trip around USF's athletic district with executive associate athletic director Bill McGillis to get an update on how construction is progressing on the Bulls' ambitious new upgrades.
Fans and students driving on Elm Drive on campus can already see the new baseball stadium taking place -- several 130-foot light poles are already standing, with the outline of the infield set and nearly ready for the huge pile of dirt that sits beyond rightfield. Coach Lelo Prado is keeping the nostalgiac dirt path from home plate to the pitcher's mound at the old Red McEwen Field, and McGillis pointed out a unique dimension to the new field -- an asymmetrical nook of sorts carved into the wall in left-center field that should allow for some strange caroms, turning a double off the wall into a triple if it's not played right. Here's video from beyond center field, looking in on the field:
As you can see, the stadium will be close enough to Elm Drive that home runs could technically be hit out of the park and into traffic, though the Bulls will have a high net in place to protect passing drivers from 400-foot bombs. The berm seating beyond the outfield and down the third-base line looks to have a great view of the field, and McGillis jokes that the new dugouts are the "longest in college baseball." The "batter's eye" in the centerfield -- the solid block of dark green that gives the batter a clear view of a pitched ball -- will be huge, like 80 feet wide, with the iconic "U" logo shadowed into it. Impressive to think that the stadium will be completed and hosting games in less than four months.
Immediately south of baseball, softball's new stadium is coming together -- its infield dirt is already in place, as you can see in this video. Again, a home run crushed down the rightfield line will have a shot at the on-campus day-care center located next to the elementary school. The softball outfield will have an uneven wall -- 10 feet high close to the lines and six feet in centerfield. From a green standpoint, it's good to see some of the trees in the new stadium area are remaining -- there's a few just beyond the fence down the leftfield line.
USF's three new football practice fields, just northeast of the main athletic facility, are quickly taking shape -- the turf field, farthest from the facility, has irrigation dug underneath where the turf will be (arriving late next month) and the two regular grass fields are on schedule to be available after this season in January -- the first use will likely be players in voluntary workouts before the entire team this spring. The new storage building for football equipment already has its walls up on one corner of the new practice area.
The basketball practice facility should see construction soon as its footprint is now set on the north end of the Sun Dome. We'll check back in a month or so for another video update on how the athletic district is coming along. ...