BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU Baseball will be entering a new era at Nick Denes Field for the 2017 season as The Nick will have a complete AstroTurf playing surface installed over the summer to be ready for next season, WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart announced Tuesday.
The estimated $1.3 million project is 100 percent privately funded and is set to break ground on June 6, with the new playing surface estimated to be completed by the middle of August.
“This new AstroTurf field is identical to those used by both professional organizations and top collegiate programs nationwide,” Stewart said. “It elevates our baseball program on many levels.”
AstroTurf, a family-owned company that invented the synthetic turf industry nearly five decades ago, has designed playing surfaces for multiple professional and collegiate teams around the country, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays in Major League Baseball, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Kansas State at the collegiate level and even the St. Louis Rams of the NFL before the team relocated to Los Angeles.
“Our players will practice and play on a state-of-the-art playing surface every day. We no longer have to spend considerable time and money on field maintenance, and we will have less games affected by inclement weather,” Stewart added. “The entire project will also be privately funded, and we are very appreciative of the commitment of those whose support made this project possible.”
Once the new surface is completed, turf will cover every part of the field. The Hilltoppers will join the likes of top baseball programs with turf playing surfaces, including Wichita State, Ohio State, Duke, Michigan, Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa. Over the last two years, 11 of the 15 home series at The Nick have been altered due to field conditions.
“WKU Baseball has a long and rich tradition that we are all proud of and will continue to build upon,” head baseball coach John Pawlowski said. “There is a great deal of excitement surrounding the program as we begin the installation of our new AstroTurf playing field here at The Nick. Our current and future student-athletes will have an opportunity to practice and play on one of the finest surfaces in the country. Thank you to everyone that made this possible, and I know our players, coaches and staff appreciate all the support and commitment to WKU Baseball. Go Tops!”
AstroTurf has created the most naturally playing and looking synthetic turf systems in the country, providing the new root-zone system that will have the quality, durability and performance that is second to none. WKU will join Louisiana Tech as the second Conference USA school to move to an all turf playing surface for baseball, while Charlotte has a turf infield and grass outfield.