In 2001, UC Irvine renewed faith in its baseball program when it resurrected the program after a long 10-year absence. On April 18, that commitment will continue to expand with the groundbreaking ceremonies set to begin on a new two-story baseball clubhouse inside Anteater Ballpark.
The clubhouse, set to open in the fall, will cost an estimated $2.4 million to construct and will be located directly behind the third-base dugout. According to Torre Chisholm, associate director of development and marketing for UCI Athletics, the 6,500-square-foot clubhouse is set to include state-of-the-art locker rooms, training facilities and equipment rooms for the players while also providing coaches and umpires with sophisticated locker and meeting rooms.
‘The clubhouse structure will fill a noticeable void for the program—namely, the lack of on-site locker rooms and meeting space,’ Chisholm said.
Head Coach Dave Serrano is excited not only about the training the facility will provide to his current players, but also the clubhouse’s ability to attract young high school stars to the Anteater program.
‘The addition and completion of Phase II will ensure that our players will continue to spend time around the best facilities in California,’ Serrano said. ‘With our success and future successes, I feel that UCI will be the choice of many student athletes.’
The new clubhouse will be named ‘Newkirk Pavilion’ in recognition of the large financial contributions made by Jim and Martha Newkirk.
Many private individuals and local businesses in the Irvine area also donated to the project, including James and Kelly Mazzo, Jack Norberg, Advanced Medical Optics and the Scott Boras Corporation.
While the baseball program is still relatively young, there is a strong consensus that UCI is gradually taking steps that will one day help the program become a national powerhouse. Phase I of the program included the initial construction of a baseball stadium as well as the hiring of a proven head coach. The school hit a home run on this particular part of its plan by building a beautiful ballpark and at the same time hiring Serrano from the highly respected Cal State Fullerton program.
Also, with groundbreaking ceremonies of Phase II set to begin shortly before the UCI-USC game on the 18th, the school is already envisioning plans for Phase III of the ballpark. Chisholm offered a glance at potential upgrades students can expect to find inside the stadium in the near future.
‘The entire facility has been master-planned, including the eventual completion of a permanent press box, ticket tower and 2,000 permanent seats,’ Chisholm said. ‘However, this is likely a $5 to $8 million project. Our most immediate plans are to simply make the facility capable of hosting NCAA Baseball Regionals.’
Some students on campus are thrilled to see the new features of Anteater Ballpark. Lance Braasch, a second-year mechanical engineering major, is glad to see the school’s dedication to the baseball program.
‘Hopefully, this new clubhouse can help us eventually overtake Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach in the standings,’ Braasch said. ‘Also, it is a lot better than building yet another science library on campus.’