Attention, Fred Glass: The IU baseball team has finished with a winning record three consecutive years and advanced to the Big Ten Tournament three years in a row for the first time in team history. I realize you just christened Cook Hall, but if there’s any team on campus that deserves a new facility based on recent performance and not just reputation, it’s the baseball team.
The best way to keep up the momentum backing the baseball program would be a new stadium. I like the 59-year-old Sembower Field; don’t get me wrong. But I think we can do better than the 2,250 seating capacity, which fills up more often than one might think.
At the very least, adding some seats could help create a larger fan base while protecting at least a few cars from foul balls. (Really, why would you park your car there at this point, or drive down Fee Lane during a game?)
Despite the fact that the men’s basketball team has finished with a combined record of 16-46 the past two seasons, it was given a beautiful new workout facility. Going 16-46 while Butler makes it to the National Championship game isn’t going to convince anyone to come here.
If you need further proof, take a look at some of the players who left when Kelvin Sampson did, such as Armon Bassett (who led Ohio University to an upset of Georgetown in this year’s tournament) and Jordan Crawford (who led Xavier to the Sweet Sixteen). But this is IU basketball, the school’s — and arguably the state’s — premier sport. It must return to prominence.
I am all for Cook Hall, as I believe it was a necessary move to help the team land big-time recruits.
But while basketball earned a new facility with its reputation and revenue-generating ability, IU baseball has earned the right by winning. Coach Tracy Smith has been doing a good job recruiting, landing talented hitters like Josh Lyon, Micah Johnson and Big Ten Player of the Year and conference Triple Crown winner Alex Dickerson. Eight of the incoming 2011 recruits are pitchers, meaning Smith is addressing the team’s well-documented pitching woes.
The program is for real and should be rewarded as such. Maybe we don’t have a donor like Alex Rodriguez, who gave $3.9 million to renovate the University of Miami’s stadium, renaming it “Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.” But hey, if and when last season’s catcher and current White Sox farmhand Josh Phegley makes it to The Show, maybe he’ll help IU open “Josh Phegley Park at Sembower Field.”