Teams have plenty of room in new dugouts
Suplizio Field has a new press box, hospitality level and seat backs on the first-base side, but the renovation started with the dugouts.
The National Junior College Athletic Association, the governing body of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, requested the JUCO Committee put in new dugouts as part of its 25-year extension.
“The former dugouts were too small and one of the improvements when we discussed the stadium renovation was to enlarge them,” NJCAA Assistant Executive Director Mark Krug said. “We felt there were safety issues involved in having dugouts that were not large enough for our college rosters. In addition, we mandated the entire stadium be ADA compliant, including the dugouts. Grand Junction was able to comply with all of those requests.”
The dugouts were 30 feet long with only one bench up against the dugout wall.
The dugouts are now 60 feet long and include an ADA lift, two sets of benches, one on the back wall and another near the front fence. Bat and helmet racks were custom-built, and there’s a storage area for water coolers. It was all part of the $8.3 million stadium renovation.
“We were on a walkthrough and someone said I’ve seen dugouts with a nice bench up front,” Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Director Rob Schoeber said. “We got some photos and sure enough, there are (benches up front) at Coors Field. We installed a special coaches bench closest to the home-plate side.
“Watching the players, that’s where they hang out. They want to be close to the action.”
Schoeber said he’s received a lot of questions asking why there is an ADA lift for the dugouts.
“We’ve had coaches in the past that needed it,” Schoeber said. “It’s a good thing. We utilize it for Challenger games.”
One of the coaches inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame last year is paralyzed from the waist down.
So who is allowed in the dugout during JUCO?
■ 1 head coach
■ 4 assistant coaches
■ 26 eligible players
■ 1 manager
■ 1 trainer
■ 2 bat boys/girls
■ Team hosts
The NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association has requested increasing rosters for several years, but it has not been approved through the regional directors.
Occasionally, talk comes up regarding the number of qualifying teams for the World Series, but it is not a formal discussion at this point.
“There has not been any talk of reducing or adding the number of teams that qualify and participate in the World Series,” Krug said. “However, the Division I baseball committee, leadership at NJCAA Headquarters and the JUCO Baseball Committee in Grand Junction have and will continue to look for ways to improve the tournament…but at this time there is no plan to alter the current 10-team format.”