When the project is complete, TCU’s baseball facilities will have few peers in college baseball.Lupton Stadium, already one of the nicer parks in the game, is set for an upgrade beginning in October. That’s when a $2.5 million to $3 million renovation will move TCU’s bullpen to behind the fence in left-center field, a turf practice field will be installed, and an upgraded hitting facility will be built. Last season’s improvements included repadding the fence, a new warning track, moving the outfield walls in and turning the berm behind the first-base line into terraced seating.A final phase will take an additional $6 million to complete, coach Jim Schlossnagle said, and will include renovations to the coaches offices, locker rooms and training rooms and a party patio above the fence in left field for fans.“All that stuff will definitely happen,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s just a matter of raising the money and going through the process with it.”Many of these upgrades to the 12-year old stadium would have been on the docket anyway, but with the move to the Big 12, TCU feels the need to keep up with the ever-improving teams in the league.“It’s not like we’re lacking. [Lupton Stadium] is really nice and it’s only 12 years old,” Schlossnagle said. “But we have to keep improving it. As the program evolves the facility needs to evolve with it.”The Horned Frogs, who held their first of 28 fall practices on Wednesday, are coming off a disappointing first season in the Big 12. First baseman Kevin Cron, who struggled to overcome a slow start at the plate last season, snapped out of it during the summer, batting .350 against some of the best pitchers in the country in the Cape Cod League.The facility improvements, Cron said, not only will help attract recruits, but will also help current players get better.“It’s huge. I’ve been around a lot of facilities and it’s something like I’ve never seen before,” Cron said. “It’s just another attraction that we’ll have for recruiting purposes and player development with the players we have here that nobody else in the country has access to. It just speaks a lot to how far the program has come and where we’re going.”The entire project will cost between $8 million and $9 million. The biggest part, which includes new offices, training and equipment rooms, a players’ lounge and classroom, is still at least a year away, provided the additional $6 million is raised.It’s those player-support amenities that are vital, Schlossnagle said, to compete with the baseball powers in the Big 12.“I’m pretty sure we’re the most expensive school in the league,” he said. “We don’t have a whole lot of funny money outside our 11.7 scholarships. When someone has to spend two or three times as much to come here as they would to go other places, then we need to have stuff to make their experience great and part of that is facilities. And being able to support them the right way and coach them. “Same thing with coaches. You want to keep your staff together and to do that it would be nice for everybody to have their own office.”Schlossnagle has his own office, but his two assistants share one.He’ll have to wait a little longer for that, but in a couple of weeks, work on the second phase begins. It’s scheduled for completion March 15.“It’s really special for us current players who will be leaving in the next year or two knowing we’ll leave the place a little better than we got here,” Cron said.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs