Recently, Claude Smith Field was updated with brick terraces for seating and tailgating out past the back fence. Now, the newest addition to this historic field has been added: a new LED jumbotron that is the best in the entire Atlantic Sun conference.
Coach Craig Gibson was very excited about the possibilities. “The addition of the LED board will be a valuable piece for the entire athletic department. We can utilize the LED board with various advertisements and promotions for different events and sponsors,” Gibson said. He was very excited about the ways that this can impact the athletics department as well.
Many Mercerians might feel that this is an unnecessary addition to the already congested layout of the school, and some might feel that this is just not needed. However, Coach Gibson begs to differ. He is very excited for how the baseball additions will change things.
Gibson remarked that this is just a piece in a much larger puzzle of the Mercer Athletics Department. New Athletic Director Jim Cole has kick started a whole trend of renovations and renewals for Mercer sports teams.
Coach Gibson had nothing but praise for him and his impact upon Mercer athletics. “What the athletic department has accomplished under our new athletic director, Jim Cole, has been amazing. He has accomplished very much in a very short period of time. The future is both bright and exciting!”
With all that’s planned for football and baseball, let alone the recent additions of lacrosse, Gibson is right about the impact of Jim Cole.
The improvements for Claude Smith Field are the first ones since 2003, and this is part of the attempt to make all of Mercer’s facilities among the elite in the Atlantic Sun. Phase one of any renovations to Claude Smith Field will begin in the summer following the end of the 2012 Mercer Baseball season. It will be a multi-step process, and Gibson knows a few areas that he wants them to address. “I think we really need to address both the restrooms and the concession areas. Once these areas are taken care of, I believe our attendance will increase,” Gibson said.
Despite these problems, there are several great draws to the field already that will be the foundation of the new field. The LED board is light years ahead of anyone else in the Atlantic Sun. The playing surface is top-notch as well.
“With the addition of the fan friendly area in right field, the batter’s eye in center field, and the scoreboard, we feel as though [Claude Smith Field] is on the way to becoming one of the best in the southeast,” Gibson said. The imminent addition is the change from bleachers to seats with chair-backs, and this will be a better viewing experience for people coming to see the Mercer Bears.
However, a new field is nothing without the players to compete on it. With the addition of non-scholarship football, there will be an influx of dual-sport athletes on this campus. Gibson has already taken this into account. “We have already recruited student-athletes with the possibility of playing football and baseball,” he said. There is a bright future ahead for the Mercer Bears baseball program.