Tulane Debuts New Stadium Built by Woodward Design+Build

22 February 2008

Opening night at Tulane’s new baseball facility, Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, is here! Woodward Design+Build was proud to be a partner with Tulane for both their campus hurricane restoration and as the builder for the new stadium. The entire staff at Woodward Design+Build wishes the Green Wave a great season in 2008!

Read about it on Tulane’s website

The Times-Picayune

Tulane season opens at renovated stadium

The Times-Picayune

22 February 2008

When Tulane baseball Coach Rick Jones sat next to President Scott Cowen at one of the first basketball games at Fogelman Arena post-Hurricane Katrina, Jones wasn’t certain what the future held for his half-demolished, half storm-wrecked stadium.

But Jones was put to ease early in the conversation.

“We are going to build you a new stadium,” Cowen said.

Suddenly Jones was comfortable, believing that somehow things would get back to normal, or in the baseball team’s case, better than normal.

Nearly two and a half years after beginning an overhaul of Turchin Stadium, the Green Wave opens its season tonight with a three-game series against Illinois-Chicago in its new and refurbished playing digs: Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.

“From when Scott Cowen said that, I felt comfortable with that’s the way we were going,” Jones said. “I didn’t know how. I didn’t have any idea it was going to be this palatial or this impressive. But that’s obviously where (athletic director) Rick Dickson came in, because he and I shared what this should look like.”

The $10.5 million, 5,000-seat stadium sits on the same site as the former stadium. Among the other upgrades to the stadium are:

— Four plush suites with restrooms and an open-air club suite.

— A new press box with radio and TV booths.

— A state-of-the-art PA sound system.

— A computerized video board over the left-field wall.

— A FieldTurf playing surface, installed with a coolant system and drainage.

— Padded outfield walls, with no sponsorship ads.

Inside there’s a retro look with red brick and dark green seats.

“It’s state of the art, even though it doesn’t shock the senses of a purist,” Jones said. “There a nostalgic look to it, a retro look. It’s a ballpark. And that’s what we wanted to have. The purists are going to really like being at this park. A recruit walking out here, it is really tough for them not to be impressed.”

The players are ecstatic about the new look.

“We’ve been waiting for (tonight) for I can’t tell you how long,” junior outfielder Aja Barto said. “I’ve been waiting for three years to come and play in this stadium, to play on the home field. It’s just amazing to think about the kind of environment that is going to develop out here. I know personally I can’t wait.”

Long time coming

When he was hired in 1993, Jones immediately began talking about upgrades that could be made at the old Turchin Stadium. Over the years his wishes typically came to fruition. New dugouts and backstops were added. Both the inside and outside of the stadium were concreted. Stands were added down the foul lines. A hitting facility and clubhouse were built.

But after the Green Wave advanced to the 2001 College World Series, interest in the program grew to an all-time high. More needed to be done, Jones said.

Dickson and Cowen agreed.

“I think (Jones) knew that I wanted it as much as he did,” Dickson said.

And the athletic director went to work, looking for donors to finance a refurbishing project for the 3,600-seat stadium.

The process hit a snag in 2003, when the university considered dropping Division I athletics.

But by the time Tulane defeated Rice in a Super Regional at Turchin Stadium to advance to the 2005 College World Series, the plan was back on course.

Not long after the Rice series wrapped up, demolition to the stadium began. Halfway through, Hurricane Katrina shut down the university and sent the baseball team to Lubbock, Texas.

“At that point,” Jones said, “all bets were off.”

But Cowen reassured his baseball coach that the plan was still in the works. And Dickson told Jones he’d be getting a brand new ballpark.

“It’s been started, stopped and interrupted more than a couple of times now,” Dickson said. “So to bring it to fruition is even more satisfying.”

“What I’m most happy about is that this didn’t have to be built, and everybody would have understood why,” Jones said. “The university was committed to this. I think this shows a commitment to athletics in general. It’s already enhanced our recruiting.”

With its finances already pushed to the limit and the athletic department fighting to bring back many of the sports it lost after the storm to stay in compliance with the NCAA, there was nothing routine about this project.

But Dickson was not to be deterred.

“What is significant about this is it’s not totally normal times,” Dickson said. “We are an athletic department with only eight teams right now. There are only two or three others in America in that same position. So the fact that we are able to do it in not-normal times makes it more significant.”

The stadium couldn’t have been built without the finances of donors, who needed to be convinced that building a stadium was smart. Dickson convinced them.

“It wasn’t so much that it was a hard sale, but explaining to people that this is kind of a beacon out there for us that says, look, we are not just trying to survive, we are trying to achieve and overcome things that we have been through,” he said.

Perhaps most unusual about Greer Field at Turchin Stadium is the artificial playing surface, the same type used in the Superdome. It now gives Tulane an easy-to-manage facility.

“From a distance it does look like one of the most manicured fields you’ve ever seen in your life,” Barto said. “But when you get on it, it’s an amazing surface the way it drains rain and the way the ball plays off it. You can run on it and the speed you get is a great advantage for us, because we’ve been able to play on it. It’s a great field, one of the best out there.”

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