By Daniel Proulx ‘19
For this upcoming season and beyond it looks like the Merrimack baseball team will be without a home field. Merrimack has recently taken on a $7.5 million reconstruction project to completely renovate and upgrade the athletic fields at Merrimack as well as build a brand new football stadium. Part of the new sports complex was initially going to be a new baseball field, but a problem in that plan was recently discovered and shut down the construction.
In a statement put out by the Merrimack College spokesperson, James Chiavelli, he said that “During the process of constructing Merrimack’s new outdoor athletic complex, our development team discovered serious problems with the composition of the ground under the baseball field, which prompted some reassessment”. Senior administrators, including the Athletic Director, then met with the players and coaches to try and explain the situation.
In an article by the Eagle Tribune titled, “Construction forces Merrimack Baseball to Find a Temporary Home” many alumni of the team voiced their concern for what this means. They do not just believe that is just a temporary problem; they believe that this is the first big step into the baseball program dissolving. Mike Daboul an alum of the Merrimack baseball program class of 1996 said, “As dedicated alums to this program, we’re concerned that there will ultimately be a next step, which is to ultimately get rid of the baseball program.”
In the same statement from the Chiavelli, he wanted to make very clear what they told the baseball team, “This is about the field, not about the baseball program. We remain committed to the future of baseball at Merrimack College.” The athletics department is close to finalizing a field for the team to play on for the upcoming season. The most likely option for the baseball team this Spring is Trinity Stadium in Haverhill. Northern Essex Community College could be another option for their home games. This is their solution to their short-term problems but at the moment, they have no long-term answers.
Even though the athletics department has expressed that they are extremely committed to the Merrimack Baseball program, some problems are still going to arise. A few of the major problems are the constant traveling of the team, securing of fields, and the fact that the lack of a field is sure to hurt the recruiting process. These problems, among many others are going to need to be solved in the future.
Another thing that has to be taken into consideration is how the players feel. Imagine that you are a junior or senior on the team now. There is a very good possibility that they are never going to play another game at Merrimack for the rest of their college careers. The parents that come to watch their son’s play could also be hurt by this because all of the games are essentially road games that could be far away.
The new athletic complex will include a brand new football stadium, that should be able to accompany 2,500 people and a 400 meter track. All of this is stated on the Merrimack website. There’s a lot to be excited about with the new athletic complex, but when one team is left behind in the process it can’t be considered a complete success.