By Brett Larsen
Building a Permanent Tomorrow with Concrete.
Those are the words stenciled on the cab of a massive crane towering over Miller Park, the eventual home of the BYU baseball and softball teams.
As the stands of the stadium rise, so do hopes that the new park will cement a place for Cougar softball and baseball among the nation”s elite for years to come.
“We are committed to excellence in all aspects of our athletic programs at BYU,” President Merrill J. Bateman said. “This new facility will clearly elevate the baseball and softball programs to another level.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the university opened the park”s doors to members of the media, giving them a tour of its concrete innards.
Tour guide Gary Pullins, a former BYU baseball coach, used words like “incredible” and “outstanding” to describe the facility while leading the group through its labyrinth of unfinished rooms.
Architect Valentiner/Crane of Salt Lake City thought of everything to make sure the players, fans and media are comfortable at Miller Park.
The players are provided with spacious clubhouses shaped like home plate, a large equipment storage area and even indoor batting cages where they can warm up before games. The interior will also house the baseball and softball offices.
Outside, fans will enjoy games from theater-style seats instead of bleachers and a large, glass press box will protect reporters from bad weather.
Even the umpires are provided for, their locker rooms coming “complete with Braille plates, so they can find their way,” Pullins joked.
BYU assistant baseball coach Hank Taylor is excited about working in such a luxurious environment.
“This is top of the line,” he said. “This is a big league facility, just on a smaller scale. That”s what”s going to make it exciting.”
Strolling through a dimly-lit, cement hallway underneath the stands, Cougar catcher Stephen Snow shares his coach”s excitement. He smiles as he imagines walking from the clubhouse to the dugout, listening to the spikes on his cleats echoing off the walls.
There are still almost two months of construction before Snow or any of the other Cougars get that chance.
Despite some minor delays because of bad weather in November, construction has proceeded according to schedule, Construction Project Coordinator Craig Lybbert said.
BYU will play its first game in its new home when the baseball team faces New Mexico on April 12.
An official Grand Opening celebration will be held on April 21 when BYU plays Utah, Val Hale, the mens” athletic director, said.
When Larry H. Miller, the primary donor behind the project, throws out the first pitch, Hale is confident that a new standard of collegiate baseball/softball facilities will be set.
“This will be one of the premier designs of a baseball/softball complex in America, if not the premier design,” he said. “I can promise there won”t be a better venue to watch baseball in America.”