CURTIS GRANDERSON OPENS NEW STADIUM AT UIC|
April 17, 2014
CHICAGO – Curtis Granderson Stadium, on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), officially opened today (April 17) in front more than 800 friends and family of UIC baseball who were on-hand for the series opener against Wright State. Granderson, a Flames’ Hall-of-Famer and current New York Mets outfielder, was in attendance to throw out the first pitch and cut the ribbon for the $10 million stadium. Granderson’s gift of $5 million to UIC is the largest known one-time donation from a professional athlete to their alma mater, according to Sports Illustrated.
Granderson Stadium will not only be home for Flames Baseball, but more importantly thousands of children throughout the city of Chicago. The new venue will host more than 38 little league organizations annually, providing for a safe and first-class experience to compete.
“Without UIC, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” said Granderson. “When given the opportunity to give back and help those that have helped me, this was one of the first ways we thought about doing it. We had done a few things in previous years and this won’t be the last. We just want to continue to help out the next student-athlete that comes through UIC and also help spread to the community that UIC is here. This is going to be, hands down, one of the top facilities in all of baseball.”
The new ballpark has a total capacity of 1,784, with 1,284 fixed seats and space for 500 in the seating berms beyond left and right field. The venue also features a luxury suite, which can accommodate 40, and a press box and suite for media. In addition to the ballpark, a new training room and team room has been added as well as two outdoor, synthetic turf practice tunnels. The project was designed by Populous, a sports architecture firm, and construction is being managed by Turner Construction.
“I have been coaching for 30 plus years and I have dealt with a lot of kids and Curtis is the most unique young man that I have ever been around,” said UIC Head Coach Mike Dee. “From his Grand Kids Foundation to his donation, to this whole project, he is unbelievably committed to kids. I could not be more proud of him; he is a first class individual.”
The Flames (14-16, 9-7) ultimately fell to the Raiders (19-16, 13-2) by a score of 11-5, but mounted a spirited comeback as UIC scored the final five runs and held WSU scoreless for the last five innings
Redshirt sophomore Conor Philbin was a bright spot for UIC today as he went 3-for-4 from the plate. Senior Jeff Boehm belted his fourth home run of the season in the seventh inning with a solo shot over the left field wall.
Action continues tomorrow with “Student Day” at the ballpark, with first pitch set for 6:05 p.m. CT. UIC and Chicago high school students are invited to enjoy an evening at the new facility for free.
Saturday’s game, scheduled for 12:05 p.m. on April 19, will be a “Kid’s Day” at the park, with children under 13 admitted free of charge. A pre-game festival, including games, concessions and the opportunity to meet UIC Flames baseball players, will occur starting at 10 a.m.