Bard College has begun constructing a new baseball facility behind the Stevenson Athletic Center.
Crews from Clark Companies of Delhi, N.Y., initiated the project last month with clearing work on the wooded site, which is adjacent to the Lorenzo Ferrari Soccer & Lacrosse Complex.
The construction is the culmination of years of planning, prompted by a commitment from an anonymous donor in the winter of 2011 to fund the project, according to a college news release.
The $2.2 million donation arrived last fall, and the donor has requested that the facility be named Honey Field. The initial phase of the project will include clearing the site, installing drainage, an artificial turf surface and fences, constructing dugouts, batting cages and bullpens, and adding a gravel parking lot.
The infrastructure for lighting will also be installed this winter, but the lights, spectator seating and a press box are part of a planned second phase, which will be paid for either by donations or fundraising or both.
“We could not be more excited that this project is coming to fruition,” Bard Director of Athletics Kris Hall said in the news release. “Like Bard College in general, athletics has been growing steadily here with the recent Stevenson Athletic Center expansion, and now the new baseball facility. We’ve got some momentum going and we can’t wait to get out there.”
Bard College had not fielded a varsity baseball team since 1937, but after hiring head coach Ed Kahovec in August 2012, the Raptors took to the field in the spring of 2013, playing home games at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill and at Gruner Field in Kingston.
In its return to baseball for the first time in 76 years, the youthful squad debuted with a doubleheader sweep of Yeshiva University. The Raptors finished the 2013 season 8-18, including winning five of their last 10.
Kahovec now has a full year of recruiting under his belt, and the 2014 roster includes 14 freshmen. After playing an independent schedule in 2013, Bard will join the Liberty League next spring. Most of Bard’s 18 varsity athletic programs play in the Liberty League.
“From a recruiting perspective, our new facility gives us a competitive advantage because of its artificial playing surface and on-campus location,” Kahovec said. “The artificial turf will allow our student-athletes to get the most out of their playing experience at Bard.”
The 2014 season will start with a doubleheader against Norwich University on March 2 at Dutchess Stadium. The slate will include a spring trip to Florida and 22 games against Liberty League opponents like Vassar College, Rensselaer, Clarkson, Rochester, Union and Skidmore.
The Raptors have 11 home doubleheaders in 2014; in 2015, they will actually be home, playing home games at Honey Field in Annandale.
“One of our main goals as a new program is to compete at a national level as quickly as possible,” Kahovec said. “Honey Field will be one of the premier Division III baseball facilities in the region and will accelerate our progress toward this goal.”