Gene Michael Field was the highlight of Kent State’s lone game over the weekend amidst the buzz over Schoonover Stadium.
On the field, burnt red dirt scorched through dark green grass. While I never stepped on the field myself, I have every reason to believe this is definite upgrade over last year’s surface. Gene Michael’s makeover went from dingy, discolored grass to a bright green diamond.
Players clearly got the benefit from the improvements completed by Friday’s game against Ohio. Players also were treated to improved dugouts and bullpen areas.
Fans, on the other hand, were left with nearly the same experience as years past. Opening day drew an announced crowd of 476, but it was the same gray bleachers for everyone. Hopefully once the stadium is complete, it will be a more personal experience with better sightlines.
Schoonover Stadium opened with little pomp and circumstance Friday, and possibly for good reason, too. Mounds of dirt littered the areas just beyond the fences — not like it’s something I don’t see around campus everyday anyway. There was no ribbon cutting or even a ceremonial first pitch. Still left to be completed is a landscaped plaza, public restroom building, picnic area and entrance gate with historical display area, new scoreboard, new public address system, Skybox for media and VIPs and all the landscaping to be done around the area.
The truth is, Schoonover Stadium looked a lot like that apartment you’ve rented out for the summer but haven’t moved into yet. The refrigerator and stove might already be there, but for now, boxes take the place of an actual living space. So far, there’s at least a bed to spend the night, but that’s about it.
The way the Flashes played Friday might be an indication that they too are still moving in. Three first-inning errors helped Ohio grab an early 3-0 lead en route to a 6-2 win.
However, if the field is any indication of where Schoonover Stadium is headed, the complex will be the gem Athletic Director Laing Kennedy promised.
I haven’t seen many college baseball stadiums, but it is hard to believe many other mid-major teams can deliver like Kent State’s plans suggest it can. There are probably some minor league teams with less attractive fields. It looks like the plans are there, but for now it’s a waiting game.
Contact sports editor Matt Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org.