The new Siebert Field was built on the cheap, yet it is tremendous improvement on the decrepit ballyard that stood on the site a year ago. It could have been better if baseball was not treated like a burden rather than a source of pride by the administration -- both central and in the athletic department.
All of the fundraising was done by coach John Anderson and other boosters of the program. The magic number was $7.5 million to start construction.
There were going to be lights, until the adminstration decided that it needed $900,000 to "oversee the project.'' So, baseball is back trying to come up with the $450,000 needed for the lights. The fundraising is still a couple hundred thousand short.
The Gophers are hosting Nebraska this weekend. It is only the second Big Ten series actually to be played at the new Siebert. The Gophers fought rain in the first home series vs. Ohio State, with two suspended games before the three games were completed.
A home series with Michigan State wound up being cancelled because Siebert Field was snow-covered. The Gophers were advised not to use snow-removal equipment that might tear up what's basically a new artificial turf.
The Nebraska series wraps up Sunday at 1 p.m. Illinois will be here next Thursday through Saturday to close the Big Ten regular season. The conference tournament, with the top six teams, will be held at Target Field starting Wednesday, May 22.
There was finally good weather for a Big Ten game at Siebert Field on Friday. There were over 1,000 people (paid and unpaid) in the small ballyard. There are only 821 seats in the grandstand, with room for another 600 people to stand or sit on a pair of berms.
The Gophers were expecting more people on Saturday afternoon, until the wind started howling from the northwest and the temperature dropped. There were still a few hundred people huddled when the game started at 2 p.m.
Football is the overwhelming presence at Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers also brought a fabulous all-around athletic program to the Big Ten. The main reason for that, of course, is all the dollars made available from football for first-class facilities.
Men's basketball has been the main drag on Nebraska athletics -- and that could be changing. Coach Tim Miles has an outstanding practice facility and the Huskers soon will be playing in what's being advertised as the best venue in the Big Ten.
There are now 11 schools playing baseball in the Big Ten. Wisconsin dropped the sport two decades ago.
There are two new baseball programs coming to the league for the 2015 season. Rutgers has a tradition of strong baseball. Maryland has a tradition of poor baseball.
Big Ten teams now are scheduled for three-game series against eight of the 10 other teams. Presumably, it will become eight of 12 other teams in 2015. There's a strong possibility the conference will go to divisions -- emulating the East and the West in football -- when expansion comes to Big Ten baseball.
Hopefully, the university administration won't reach into baseball's fundraising pot again, and Siebert Field will have its lights by then.
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