Bumped. GO BRUINS. - N
The lack of progress for major renovations to Jackie Robinson Stadium has reached new heights as the Morgan Center still refuses to commit serious money to a renovation. While I have sent e-mails to DG before regarding a Jackie Robinson Stadium renovation, this is by far the most detailed I have ever been. It's rather long (over 2 pages on Word) so be prepared.
Dear Mr. Guerrero,
I have been a supporter of UCLA athletics my entire life and have always admired the university’s expectation of excellence. This expectation of excellence is applied in the classroom and on the field and I’m pleased to see that under your guidance the Morgan Center has finally begun to expect excellence from themselves. The athletic facilities have received massive upgrades since you were appointed athletic director from the Acosta Center, the locker room renovation at the Rose Bowl, Easton Stadium renovations, Spaulding Field improvements and the current plans for the Spieker Aquatic Center and Pauley Pavilion. While all these improvements are fantastic and much needed, I’m ashamed of the negligence for Jackie Robinson Stadium, which is an eyesore for the baseball program.
Built in 1981, Jackie Robinson Stadium served as a fine facility for the baseball program for years. It provided the program with a facility comparable to the other top programs in the country, however the stadium went essentially untouched for 25 years. Once you took over as athletic director I figured that the baseball program would finally get the facility it deserved considering you are a former Bruin baseball player yourself. I was sorely mistaken though as you have done no more than provide small improvements that only masks the fact that Jackie Robinson Stadium is laughed at by all visiting fans from programs where baseball is a priority, not an afterthought.
Yes, the bench seating was removed and replaced with chair backs. The stadium did get new mesh netting and a paint job. The field was replaced (although it was poorly done and is not a quality surface) and new padding was placed throughout the field, however Jackie Robinson Stadium still remains one of the poorer facilities in the nation. The stadium can’t even host a quality regional when the team earns itself the right to host. I’m aware of the attempts made to host recently and the belief that the stadium could indeed host a regional, but even should the NCAA grant UCLA the chance to host a regional, it would be far from a well hosted regional. The team facilities would be cramped, the concession facilities would be overused and cause long lines, portable toilets would have to be brought in, there would have to be a makeshift press conference center, the press box would be auxiliary at the stadium doesn’t even have a true press box and people would be forced to stand all around because the stadium lacks the seating space to host the number of people who would want to attend.
The fact is that the baseball program needs a facility that holds at least 2,000 (1,600 of which must be assigned seating), has restrooms and concessions to serve that many people, extra rooms to be used for regionals, a press box with two radio booths, a television booth and space for game production and press. The facility must also have an adequate playing surface, hitting and pitching facilities, improved coaches offices, an improved clubhouse, an umpire locker room and facilities to comfortably host photography and camera crews. This list merely contains what is needed for the baseball program to have an adequate facility and falls short of what the facility would need to be an excellent facility and live up to the expectations in Westwood.
The stadium cannot be improved through incremental improvements as you are currently doing. When a stadium has been ignored for as long as Jackie Robinson Stadium was ignored it takes a complete overhaul to get it back to par. Not only will it take a complete renovation to make it adequate again, but you are wasting money with the renovations that have taken place recently. Should the baseball program become more successful and draw larger crowds, more seating would be required and should you lower the field for more seating, the field replacement would have been wasted. Should you expand down the line, the newly renovated bullpens would be wasted. Should you expand up then the supports for the new netting and the recently upgraded lights would have to be removed so as not to block spectators’ views.
Not only are the incremental improvements insufficient and a waste of money, but eventually the stadium will need a complete overhaul and at that point you will be forced to spend far more on that renovation than you would should you do it now. In 1997, Ohio St. built Bill Davis Stadium for $4.7 million. TCU opened Lupton Stadium in 2003 at a cost of $7 million. In 2005, East Carolina opened beautiful Clark-LeClair Stadium, a stadium that cost approximately $11 million (the baseball team travels to E. Carolina in 2009 so maybe you can take a trip down there and see what a first class stadium looks like). Next season, North Carolina will open Boshamer Stadium, a $25.5 million project that will be one of the finest facilities in the country. As you can see, the cost the build a stadium is rapidly increasing and will continue to do so.
UCLA doesn’t draw enough fans to build the 9,000+ seat stadiums with luxury suites like North Carolina and South Carolina, but there is no reason for the Bruins to not have a 2,000-2,500 seat stadium that offers the players all the amenities possible. An excellent facility for UCLA could cost $10-15 million right now, but even by waiting five years, it could cost upwards of $20 million. Not only does the UCLA baseball program deserves a massive renovation, but it makes financial sense to do is at as soon as possible.
I understand the Morgan Center is already having problems funding renovations for the Spieker Aquatic Center and Pauley Pavilion and I also understand that Pauley Pavilion takes priority over Jackie Robinson Stadium. Even so, there is no reason to leave Jackie Robinson Stadium until after those renovations are complete, especially when some of the bigger donors to a Jackie Robinson Stadium renovation could come from people who would no donate to other projects. Frank McCourt, owner of the Dodgers could be persuaded to make a sizeable donation to a Jackie Robinson Stadium renovation, especially right now. McCourt is often criticized for being a Boston man who has no interest in winning, rather in making money from the Dodger. He contends that he has set roots in Los Angeles and that he is committed to the community. What better way to prove it than to make a donation to the baseball program at Los Angeles’ public university, UCLA? In addition, McCourt is criticized for abolishing Dodger tradition so with the New York Mets opening a new stadium that will have the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, a sizeable donation a Jackie Robinson Stadium renovation to preserve his name on the stadium could be enticing to McCourt.
A Jackie Robinson Stadium renovation would be challenging, but it is necessary for the program to live up to the expectations of excellence that they are held to. The program needs a facility that can wow recruits before they enroll at UCLA, help them improve their skills before taking the field and provide an advantage on the field when they get to play at home in the postseason. None of this is possible with the stadium in its current state and won’t be possible if you continue with the renovations as currently planned. A major overhaul is needed and it is needed in the near future, before the decrepit stadium becomes not only an eyesore and embarrassment, but a hindrance to the programs ability to compete for conference and national titles.