February 14, 2018
Grand Canyon University is set to debut its brand new baseball stadium, Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark, on Friday when the baseball program opens its 2018 season against No. 4/7 TCU at 6 pm. The opening of the facility coincides with the Lopes’ return to Division I postseason eligibility.
The ballpark caps off GCU’s “10 in 2” initiative, an unprecedented plan to build 10 new athletic facilities in a two-year span as the university completed its transition to NCAA Division I athletics. Along the way, GCU also has debuted a new soccer stadium, softball stadium, beach volleyball stadium, tennis complex, basketball practice facility, student-athlete academic center, golf practice facility, equipment room and athlete performance center.
The new facilities enhance the campus experience for all students and are just one component of the university’s rapid campus expansion. Over the past decade, GCU has invested $1 billion in new facilities and technologies to accommodate a boom in enrollment. Since 2008, GCU has added 20 new suite-style residence halls, more than 1 million square feet of classrooms and laboratories, four parking garages and 22 retail dining options. GCU also has completed major renovations of a 152-room hotel and a championship golf course.
GCU Ballpark, one of the top on-campus baseball facilities on the West Coast, takes the baseball program to a new level. For the first time, GCU has a baseball facility that offers amenities such as chairback seating, an outfield berm, a platform for events and in-game activities, a multi-room press box, an on-site team store, classroom space and wireless internet access for fans.
“To see it keep moving and come to fruition has been amazing,” head coach Andy Stankiewicz said. “It's the jewel in the desert. It's got a spring training look about it with the batting cages, the (practice) half-field and the stadium. Baseball fans who have gone to those big-league spring training sites, I hope they see a comparison to here.”
GCU is proud to offer free admission for all 31 home baseball games in the stadium’s inaugural season, offering an unmatched family entertainment experience in the Valley.
For 2018, the stadium can accommodate 3,500 fans. On-field seating sections that house temporary seating for 2018 will be made permanent in the offseason and will increase capacity to 4,100 for 2019. Alongside the new facility, GCU Athletics is proud to feature an all-new game atmosphere for its home games. The fan experience at GCU Ballpark will be enhanced with between-inning contests, promotional nights, giveaways, lively music and chants, and activities for children throughout the game. All night games will have a more family-friendly start time of 6 pm.
A large main concession stand allows GCU to unveil a pair of signature food items. “Thunder Nachos,” a loaded boat of green chile chicken-topped purple corn tortilla chips with a variety of toppings, will be available for just $6. The ballpark also will feature Giant Purple Churros for just $2. In addition to the two signature items, GCU Ballpark has an array of traditional ballpark fare.
Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark will open with a bang on Friday, Feb. 16 as the Lopes welcome a reigning College World Series participant. A sellout crowd is expected, with the first 3,500 fans taking home a commemorative inaugural season baseball while postgame activities will include a fireworks show, an autograph session for children and a chance to run the bases. Additionally, free hot dogs and cotton candy will be available for all fans.
The right field platform will be transformed into a kids zone with activities for children throughout the game. Adjacent to the ballpark, the team’s batting cages and practice facility will be open for kids 12 and under during the game.
A weekend full of giveaways continues to Saturday’s 2 pm and Sunday’s 1 pm games. The first 400 fans on Saturday will receive a vintage “Antelopes” baseball tee, while Sunday’s first 250 attendees will receive a GCU blanket, perfect for laying out on the stadium’s right field berm.
The opening weekend matchup pits GCU, the reigning WAC regular-season champion, against the visiting Horned Frogs. The Lopes posted a 20-4 conference mark in 2017, the best winning percentage the WAC has seen since eventual national champion Rice went 25-5 in 2003.
Amidst all the new facets, GCU continues to honor the history associated with its baseball program. The playing surface remained untouched through the renovations. In fact, the layout of the field remains largely similar to when the field was established in 1962 by Dr. Dave Brazell.
Brazell founded the GCU baseball program in 1953 and coached GCU in each of its first 28 seasons, leading the Lopes to a national championship at the NAIA level. With a shiny new stadium surrounding the field, Brazell’s name remains attached to the facility as Brazell Field. Brazell’s passion for the university has carried through to this day, as he can often be found courtside at a GCU Arena event or in the stands of the baseball facility that continues to bear his name.
Following opening weekend, GCU will host a sampling of top competition at the stadium throughout the season. Washington State, Penn State, New Mexico and UNLV will visit GCU Ballpark in non-conference play. The Lopes also will take on their familiar slate of WAC competition as GCU prepares for the WAC Tournament in Mesa, Ariz., and aims for its first NCAA Division I Tournament berth.
- Charles Hampton
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