Swinging in a New Stand – Plus, limited spectators bring a sense of normalcy

Autumn Zierman – Staff Writer

With spring semester in full swing and the weather thawing out, outdoors sports have entered a soft-open stage of allowing spectators back into the stands. Under the new guidelines set forth by the Gustavus Athletic Department attendees will be able to, in limited capacity, fill the stands to cheer Gusties on from the sidelines.
Gustavus will insist that visitors to the campus don’t enter the buildings, but for some outside sports spectators will be able to book tickets for assigned and limited seating. On the docket to watch will be baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, as well as men’s and women’s tennis. Limited capacity rules will still apply, and attendees will still not be able to spectate volleyball games, football scrimmages or track & field events due to the indoor nature of the sports.
“In order to limit the number of outside visitors coming to campus, each rostered student-athlete and coach will be allowed two guests at each home competition. For weekday events, guests must be registered by the student-athlete or coach at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled contest,” Sports Information Director CJ Siewert said.
If you are a Gustie looking to show your spectator support, there is good news for you as well.
“There will be a limited number of tickets available for current Gustavus students and employees that will be distributed at the Lund Center Information Desk the day of each contest. Tickets will be distributed starting at 10 a.m. weekdays and noon Saturday and Sunday,” Siewert said.
Even as spectators begin to return, and with them, some sense of normalcy to the competitive athletics world, strict guidelines and COVID procedures will remain in place for the protection of the college. According to the Sports Information Offices, venues will open to spectators 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. Guests must follow Gustavus’s seating policy and arrangements in order to maintain distance to others and may not interact with student-athletes while at the contest. Spectators must remain at least 12 feet away from all student-athletes and competition areas. Tailgating before or after a contest is strictly prohibited and all guests must leave the facility immediately following the conclusion of the event
With spectators being allowed back in to cheer Gusties from the sidelines, an important step in undergoing new spectator accommodations is underway in the baseball fields. It is projected that the Gustavus baseball field renovation project will be completed in the coming months. Highlights of the second phase of construction include a 350-seat covered grandstand, two enclosed press boxes, patio-style viewing areas, state-of-the-art sound system and improved live broadcast elements.
The result of the first phase is currently being enjoyed as the Baseball team returns to a season in full swing with access to the phase one new field that was created as part of the project.
“The team is excited about the new field, and the grandstand helps from a recruiting perspective,” Head Baseball Coach Brad Baker said.
The field also brings benefit to the whole campus as the turf is multifunctional, and out of the baseball season, it may be used for soccer practice, club sports and intramural usage.
“The baseball field has been in its current location since 2007 after construction of the football field replaced the former location of Myrum Baseball Field. Games were played on natural grass and dirt through the 2017 season,” CJ Siewert said.
“The whole grandstand project really completes the facilities at Gustavus and at the end of the day it will help with recruiting. We had temporary bleachers that they dragged out for games before, Gustavus has never had a grandstand,” Coach Baker said.
This $2 million project for the benefit of the team was also entirely donor funded. “This project is an exciting piece to a larger fundraising campaign. We are grateful for all the donors who support our vision to provide Gusties with one of the best facilities in Division III, Athletics Director Tom Brown said.
“The donations were mostly people who graduated from Gustavus—not even necessarily Baseball program alum—just people who are alumni of Gustavus, or closely tied to alum. With the completion of this project we will have one of the best ballparks in small college baseball. I’m really thankful for the donors who have supported our vision for the young men that choose Gustavus,” Coach Baker said.
As the Gustavus Baseball season picks up for the next two months, it is projected that about half of their 30-40 games this season are to take place on the field that was created in phase one of this project. Next year the team looks forward to returning in fuller swing with a new grandstand and spectators to fill its seats.

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