*That is the proper demonym, I checked.
I’ve got a bit of a problem today. I’m not finding a lot of inspiration. I do keep a short list of blog ideas I keep supposedly just for this sort of occasion, but none of them are jumping out at me today. I’m not super interested in breaking down this Pirates-Cardinals series that just happened. I’m so uninterested in covering NFL preseason it’s probably illegal. I already covered Bull Durham this week. College football isn’t going yet, so there’s nothing really to write about there. Paul George just made a visit to Riley Hospital, which is awfully nice, but hard to write a blog about.
The only real topic that seems interesting to me also doesn’t really seem to be enough to write about. How I would renovate Hollett Stadium. Or, pardon me, Sewell Field and Huntsman Track at Hollett Little Giant Stadium. It’s quite the mouthful for five thousand seats.
What brought this to mind was reading about UMHB’s* new football stadium, which is apparently quite the palace for D3. 7,500 seats, double decked, attached student union, apparently cost $50 million, mostly put up by the former owners of the Astros.** It does sound like an awfully nice place to watch a football game. Wabash has also been going through a pretty extensive facilities upgrade which probably cost even more than UMHB’s field, though it’s been more spread out.
*That’s the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, for the uninitiated.
**Unrelated note, but I feel like I have to share it somewhere. Why not here? Anyway. The Atlanta Braves apparently just did some massive upgrades to their training facilities. Who bought their old stuff? None other than Kip White of Fountain Trust, headquartered in good old Covington, Indiana. My mom works there and has spearheaded a lot of the fitness stuff, so she’s pretty involved with this new gym their building with the Braves’ old stuff. Not the decision to buy it, mind you, just what to do with it once it’s in Covington. Now all I get to hear about is how excited Mom is about having workout stuff that Chipper Jones would have used.
To date, the football field got a new scoreboard and went to turf.* Baseball got a brand new (natural grass!) stadium, which is a real gem. You might remember it as the header original header for this site. The soccer field moved to where the baseball field used to be. It also got a stadium upgrade along with turf. I don’t know about playing soccer on artificial turf, but they seem to do okay. Starting next year it will also be the lacrosse stadium, which introduces a whole new debate.** I don’t think anything in the fieldhouse got a big upgrade, but really, nothing really needed it in there. It’s still by far the nicest fieldhouse I’ve been in for a school its size.
*I firmly believe all outdoor sports should be played on grass unless you’re playing them inside, so I’m morally opposed to FieldTurf. But, I have to admit, it looks nice. The scoreboard I couldn’t be more in favor of. It was impossible to read because the sun would outshine the lights in the afternoons, which you might recognize as the time that college football gets played. They upgraded to a digital scoreboard and wisely moved it to the other end of the stadium.
**Gotta get that east coast money!
Those were wonderful and, for soccer and baseball, badly needed upgrades. I feel like more could have been done, though. For one, the still one-line digital sign is okay, but a true videoboard would have been awfully nice. Expensive, sure, but nothing that a few well-off alums couldn’t handle. I could be of use in picking out what would best suit the College,* seeing as a I spent a few years doing technical support for Watchfire Signs. I may not be a fan of how that department was run, but I have to admit, their signs did look nice. That’s a relatively minor upgrade, though.
*Another quick note for those unfamiliar with Wabash. When referring to Wabash as “the College,” it is customary to capitalize the C. That was most certainly the case when writing for the newspaper, though it seems pretty consistent all throughout Wabash culture and writings. It was a conscious choice in this case, but I’m pretty sure it’s habit enough by now that I would do it that way anyhow.
A bigger upgrade, and I think more badly needed upgrade, is to the stadium itself. That is the one area that was kind of ignored in this last round of updates. My idea, which probably wouldn’t go over real well with most, but I still like it, is to totally transform the stadium. Right now, it’s a pretty standard two-sided set up. Big home stands (usually pretty full with quite a bit of standing on the track), shorter visiting stands. It’s not a bad set up at all. But I have the idea to make it into a small bowl. Not necessarily to add seats, because honestly, 5,000 is a pretty good number for Wabash. I would propose shortening the home side and then wrap the seats all the way around the field to make up the difference. Would that work? On most weeks, sure. On Bell Week? Well, it would be a challenge. See, usually the stadium looks like this. A slightly dated picture, but not a bad representation. For the Bell Game, it looks like this. Notice the difference? Yeah, seating triples for that game. Not sure how you would pull that off with my idea. Probably unworkable.
What would certainly not be unworkable? And maybe even downright affordable? Stadium seats. You could even do the homeside first and wait a season or two before you do the visitor side. The College already put stadium seats* in the new baseball and soccer stadiums, so it would give a more uniform look to all the facilities. That may not sound like much, but given how the new gates to both new stadiums look, it’s apparently something worth considering. I do expect the football stadium to have that gate style soon. I digress. Beyond looking better is the comfort factor. How often have you heard somebody say, “These chairs are okay, but I sure wish I could have a metal bleacher right now?” I’m guessing that number is right around never. Now, sure, you’re not going to have stadium seats in all the temporary bleachers for the Bell Game, and I don’t think anybody would ever expect that. But there’s really no reason not to have them in the main grandstands. I can’t seem to find any place that listed their pricing on their website, but it doesn’t seem like 5,000 such seats would be that big of an investment. Surely no bigger than the installation and maintenance of FieldTurf, right?
*Granted, in much smaller quantities.
There’s another lesson to be learned here. There’s not too many topics I can’t find myself bloating from about a five hundred word blurb to something more in the neighborhood of 1,500 words in a hurry. That’s not always the best trait, but just like in carpentry, it’s always better to guess too long than too short.