One of the many upcoming renovation plans at Blair Field will be the installation of new stadium lights according to Long Beach State officials.
The project was announced in 2009, but didn’t break ground until three years ago and will not be finished until next year.
“We are looking forward to having new lights at Blair Field and feel it is another step that is necessary in the enhancement of this historic site,” head coach Troy Buckley said.
The grand total to install the new lights will be $1 million, according to Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director Rob Clark.
Other renovations have already been made to the stadium such as moving in the outfield wall, putting new padding along the backstop and revamping the team’s locker room. The bullpen was also fixed and renamed after Jered Weaver, the 10-year MLB veteran with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and LBSU alum who donated $500,000 to his alma mater.
Previous renovations consisted of upgrading and naming the Troy and Danyll Tulowitzki hitting house, adding a live stream to home games with three different camera angles and installing new restrooms.
“The renovations at Blair have been very enjoyable and we are certainly getting the most of it. The upgrades have and will continue to aid in the development of our student-athletes,” Buckley said.
The new lights will be illuminating LED bulbs, which are planned to be installed next year.
“It’s also to add higher quality lights, LED lights that are more energy efficient,” Clark said.
“It’ll be a better experience for the fans and for our players. We want to host the regionals again.”
Not only will the lights help Blair Field meet the NCAA standards, but it will improve performance and visibility for the players.
“It will improve the quality of vision for the teams that will be playing. Vision is the key component in our sport and will improve pitch recognition, depth perception recognition, and quality of game as it relates to signs from catcher to pitcher and infielders,” Buckley said.
The last time Long Beach State hosted a Regional and Super Regional was in 2017, but at the time the lights at Blair Field did not meet NCAA standards. Long Beach had to bring in supplemental lights from the Muscro Company throughout the Regional and Super Regional.
“The new lights will be at a standard that no extra banks of lighting will be needed to do TV production and currently that is a reason why we do not have games televised at night at Blair,” Buckley said.
Donors consist of longtime supporters Marilyn Bohl, former Long Beach mayor Bob Foster and former Dirtbags Troy Tulowitzki, Jason Vargas and Evan Longoria.
“What Marilyn (Bohl) has done has been incredible, she continues to give and she knows it’s an investment in the lives of our student athletes and the future lives of our student athletes,” Clark said.
A six-figure donation kicked off the search for funds Friday, but more will be needed to continue the project
“We’re working on it, today [Friday] we do have some six-figure gifts that we have closed to get towards it but it’s a seven figure project so we still have a ways to go,” Clark said. “We’re moving quickly and we have identified folks that have expressed interest. Our hope is to get it done by next season.”
While some funds were donated from longtime supporters or alumni, professional fundraisers were also held to gain more support for the project.
“You go through a process to identify who can give to the project and you get out and you build relationships with trust and find out if people want to support,” Clark said. “If they do that’s one thing and two if they are capable of supporting in a higher or lower level or whatever level that they can and there are different factors that go into that.”
According to Clark, the list of donors will be kept private.
The athletic department continues to find new donation techniques to keep this phase of the light project going.
“As we move forward there will be additional phases so we’re not just looking at this like one major project, but as a series of other things that we’re continuing to do,” Clark said. “It’s evolving as we speak because we are identifying some unique fundraising strategies to hopefully supplement the philanthropic giving as well.”
Department officials hope to have the lights done by the start year if everything goes according to plan.
“Our hope is to get it done by next season but that may not happen, that just depends on again people’s circumstances and have to find generous supporters who can make this project into a reality,” Clark said.