July 03, 2012
This morning, the news was all about baseball coach Gary Henderson receiving an extension. By this afternoon, it had shifted to the potential for a new ballpark.
At least half of today's press conference with Henderson and athletic director Mitch Barnhart was about the possibility of a new ballpark or a renovated Cliff Hagan Stadium. It sure sounds like Henderson and Barnhart both expect it to be finished well within the new 5-year contract.
The possibilities mentioned were a major update to Cliff Hagan Stadium (which has been the home of UK baseball since 1979 and was updated in 2002) or a new facility, probably on Alumni Drive.
Mitch was asked if he had a timetable for a new/updated stadium. He jokingly looked at his watch, then said this:
"Obviously, we have to move quick. It takes probably 6-8 months to get a set of architectural plans that you can build up. You can draw pictures, you can do those quickly, but it probably takes 6-8 months for (plans), it takes a solid period of time to build it. It depends if you're going to go on the site where you are or if you're going to go someplace else. If you're going to be where you are right now or you're going to build on a new site, those are two different issues because you can continue to play in the spot, if you're not retrofitting, if you go somewhere else. Those become issues.
"Then, how you fit in the university landscape. I think that's coming down the pipe fairly quickly as far as what the university wants to do with it's master plan. I think that will come rather rapidly which will help us decide what we need to do. More than anything else, I want to help Gary and give him what he wants for this baseball program. We don't want to just do it and put a band-aid on it. That's not the purpose. The purpose is to get something that lasts the test of time. We've done band-aids before, probably not our best plan. So we have to figure out how to create a facility that stands for a while and gives us a chance to be out there for a while."
Do you see this in the next couple years?
"Oh, I think so. I'd be disappointed if we weren't there."
A reporter joked that Henderson, who was a longtime pitching coach, would probably prefer a pitcher's park. He said this:
"I'm fine if it's fair. I really am. Just a fair ballpark, and I'll be fine."