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Field of dreams

New baseball field at Laney—it’s the best

By Scott Strain
On February 3, 2011

One look, one tour around Laney College's new baseball complex and one conclusion can easily be reached: This is one fine facility.

Cynics may ask: What is it doing here?

The answer: This new complex is needed if Laney is to continue having a viable baseball option for local student-athletes who want to come here.

And this is some complex—an all-weather infield and outfield, new dugouts, lights for night games, new stands, new press box and, most importantly, a new hope for a program that has struggled.

The first game is set for Thursday, Feb. 3, at 1:30 p.m. City College of San Francisco will provide the opposition. There will be a short pre-game ceremony starting at approximately 1 p.m.

What is the old "Field of Dreams" mantra? "Build it and they will come?" At this new facility, they (recruits) should come.

The old baseball facility, built in the late 1960s when the school was built, was deteriorating. Canadian geese inhabited the outfield (even during games) and rabbits lived in and under the sideline storage containers. The field flooded at the hint of rain.

Opponents didn't want to play here. Finding players to come here, well, it was a tough sell.

No longer.

"This is long overdue," head baseball coach Francisco Zapata said. "The guys are excited, we're (the coaches) are excited. We're ready to go."

A strong home schedule, starting with a three-game series with CCSF (Feb. 3-5), is not the only event occurring on the new field. Games involving Albany and Bishop O'Dowd high schools are scheduled, and Zapata hopes to showcase an Oakland Athletic League "Game of the Week."

The baseball complex is part of a larger project for Laney College athletics. A new, 95-car parking lot (with solar panels to provide light) is currently being built and the foundations are being laid for a new athletic field house.

The whole cost for the project will be under $20 million, paid for by the Measure A bond issue passed by voters in 2006.

Is it worth it? From this perspective, yes.

To be a fully functional educational institution, Laney must offer students the opportunity to participate in competitive sports. The school offers two sports for men (baseball, football) and five for women (volleyball, water polo, basketball, swimming, and track). In these tough budget times, it behooves the college to offer the best facilities it can.

The gym, the football field, the baseball field are classrooms.

"It's definitely going to attract more student-athletes to Laney," Zapata told the Oakland Tribune. "It's going to provide the community with an exciting opportunity…To see that facility on Laney's grounds—it's a sight to see. Beautiful.


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