As Florida State begins its spring sports season, there is optimism for what teams will show on the field as the baseball and softball programs are each ranked in the top 15 in the preseason. And both programs will enjoy significant infrastructure upgrades in 2022.
Crews have been busy at Dick Howser Stadium, installing new padding along the outfield wall and dugouts. They also painted walls around the dugouts and repaired leaks to the roof while technicians updated the Trackman system that provides coaches with analytics on pitchers and hitters. The players’ clubhouse will also have new carpet.
“The carpet hasn’t been replaced in I couldn’t tell you,” FSU athletics director Michael Alford told the Osceola. “It needed it. Those are little attention-to-detail issues that we just need to address. Don’t let them sit there for two years. Address them, move on to the next.”
Alford has been able to prioritize short-term needs within the budget and also plan ahead for long-term desires. A baseball player at Mississippi State and UAB, Alford envisions premium seating at Howser in the coming years — something Mike Martin Jr. has also advocated for in recent years.
FSU’s tradition room has walls filled with photos and plaques of players, but Alford would also like to add more prominent displays of FSU’s baseball legends for fans to see when they arrive on game days at Howser.
“We don’t tell our history in that facility,” Alford said. “We got one of the best brands in college baseball, and you walk through the concourses and we’re not talking about the ex-players who played here, the All-Americans, the tournament appearances. It’s just bland. So we’re looking at what can we do to upgrade the appearance of the park as you walk in.”
Upgrades around the Howser concourse and stairwells, like sandblasting and painting, are part of deferred maintenance projects for the long term, Alford said.
Softball, soccer scoreboards coming in August
FSU athletics and Seminole Boosters, Inc., have raised $1.4 million toward a $2 million project that will add scoreboards at JoAnne Graf Field and the Seminole Soccer Complex in August.
“Everything’s on target,” Alford said. “They are going to be very nice boards, state of the art. It’s going to really change the fan experience along with the student-athlete experience. And that’s what they’re there for is to really upgrade what the experience is like when you go to the park and the soccer pitch.”
One of the goals with softball is to bring FSU’s field in line with other programs, especially those in the Southeastern Conference. As softball’s popularity has been on the rise, a number of SEC schools have invested in their programs, too.
Two years ago, donors funded a shade structure to give relief from the afternoon sun. FSU softball coach Lonni Alameda is pushing for more seating, too.
“We’re right now looking at putting some premium seating in softball down the right-field line,” Alford said. “We have a demand for it. And looking at what some other places have done, looking at what we can do down the left-field line on that burm. Looking at what some other projects across the country have done to increase the fan experience. …
“The thing is identifying projects that we can do now and identifying projects that, ‘Hey, we may not get to this (until) five years from now, but it’s in our queue. It’s in our timeline that we’re going to address it at some point. It’s one thing to talk about. It’s another thing to start fundraising or doing what the process is that needs to take place to solve that issue.”
Soccer field to have new turf
Alford said the soccer field will also have new turf this spring.