The University of Central Missouri has a brand new, full AstroTurf, baseball field. Mid-America Sports Construction took the Mules’ grass field and retro-fitted it with a complete base system. Jerry Hughes and Scott Thomason headed up the project for the University.
Gift from Crane allows UCM to enhance baseball stadium that bears his name with new turf
WARRENSBURG, Mo. — The University of Central Missouri along with Jim Crane, UCM alumnus and owner of the Houston Astros, today announced plans to upgrade the university’s baseball facility, with a new synthetic turf playing surface. The announcement of the gift from Crane, Houston, Texas, took place today in a press conference at the stadium that bears his name, which also has benefitted through the former Mule baseball standout’s generosity.
“The bond between a player and a coach and the appreciation of an alumnus in their university is again evident in the support that Jim Crane has provided to the University of Central Missouri and our baseball program. When we think about Tompkins Field and Crane Stadium, the value of that relationship is what is highlighted by this incredible gift that Jim has provided,” said UCM President, Dr. Chuck Ambrose.
The new synthetic playing surface will make the field playable when it otherwise might not be due to inclement weather. It will reduce the amount of maintenance needed to keep the field playable and will reduce the amount of time that student-athletes have to work on the field.
Originally opened during the 1976 season and called Mules’ Field, James R. Crane Stadium at Robert N. Tompkins Field was renovated in the spring of 1998 thanks primarily to funding from Crane. The project included a locker room and coaches’ offices for the Mules, an umpire’s dressing room, new dugouts, permanent seats, a concession stand, a press box, and lights. In the fall of 2004, a new indoor batting cage and weight room facility was added, again funded by Crane.
UCM’s Board of Governors in October approved Mid-America Sports Construction in Lee’s Summit to complete the project. The field will be outfitted with a synthetic surface from AstroTurf, the official turf of Major League Baseball, and Mid-America Sports Construction is a certified AstroTurf installer.
Crane committed the gift on his visit to the Warrensburg campus in early October while in town to watch his Houston Astros play the Kansas City Royals in the Major League Baseball Postseason.
“We really appreciate the dedication of Jim Crane to making Central Missouri one of the best collegiate baseball programs in the country. His generous giving attitude will never let him forget where he came from,” said Jerry Hughes, UCM director of intercollegiate athletics.
The project is expected to be completed in time for the Mules’ first home baseball game of the 2016 season. The gift will be made through the UCM Foundation.