Patience Pays Off for UK Baseball
As the old proverb says, patience is a virtue.
The Kentucky baseball program has certainly had to be patient over the years, but the wait is over.
On Friday, the UK Athletics Board approved a $49 million plan for a new, state-of-the-art baseball stadium to be located off of Alumni Drive near the current soccer and softball facilities and the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. The new baseball stadium will put the UK baseball program on par with its rivals in the Southeastern Conference.
“It’s a really cool day for Kentucky baseball and Coach (Nick) Mingione, and the players, most importantly,” said Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. “For so many years, we’ve been desiring to do some things to help our baseball program. We’ve always had a difficult time finding the right time and the right niche for plans for our baseball program.
“Sometimes you want good, sometimes you want better, and sometimes, if you wait long enough, you get best. We’ve got the best solution that we could possibly find.”
Mingione knows this is an important step in growing the UK baseball program.
“The number one question I’ve been asked since I was hired was about the stadium,” Mingione said. “This is a huge, huge day for our program.”
With the addition of the baseball stadium, the UK Athletics’ presence in the area will continue to increase. With soccer and softball in place, and with the completion of the new football training facility, the addition of a new baseball stadium makes sense.
“We’ve created a little bit of an athletic village,” Barnhart said. “It’s a really, really unique complex.”
The plan is to break ground on the yet-to-be-named baseball facility in February of 2017. The entire build should take about 18 months, with the Wildcats playing their first game in the new stadium in 2019. The news only adds to the momentum built since Mingione was hired this offseason.
“It’s definitely going to help, there’s no way this hurts,” Mingione said. “We’ve got (new player) commitments from 15 different states. There are people coming from all over the country to be a part of what we’re building here. It’s an exciting time to be a Kentucky Wildcat.”
And while the new stadium will be beneficial to the team, and the program, Mingione still wants to make sure the squad playing in the stadium has the right pieces.
“It’s important to put the right people in there,” he said. “Our culture will be the same. We want to win in all areas of our life. We want guys that are committed to our team and our family. We want guys who are committed to winning. I know you can win here and we’re going to win here.”
With the combination of the high-energy Mingione and a new baseball stadium, the future looks bright for Kentucky baseball. It appears that their patience is finally paying off.