Now that the Diamond Dogs have righted the ship, it is time to revisit an issue raised by Quinton McDawg back in March; namely, how to bring Foley Field up to the level of other S.E.C. baseball stadiums.
Foley Field was built the year Vince Dooley won his first S.E.C. championship in football and it was refurbished almost 20 years ago, while David Perno was a Georgia athlete. Ours is the second-smallest baseball facility in the league and the Diamond Dogs have been drawing at a rate this year that suggests Bulldog Nation is ready to step up in weight class as a fan base.
Looking at Georgia’s master plan for athletic facilities, Quinton concludes:
The plan advances two alternative designs for a new Foley Field. The first would involve a completely new structure, rotating the field so that home plate would be moved to the present right field. This plan would present two significant changes: 1) present a more aesthetic view beyond the outfield wall, with the Rankin Smith Center and Stegeman as the view beyond the batter's eye, and 2) eliminate the view from Kudzu Hill, the most unique aspect of Foley Field. I'd rather keep the kudzu.
A second alternative is presented in the master plan that maintains the existing structure and simply adds seating all the way down the outfield lines. This alternative was presented without comment, so I'm at a loss on details, but it has to be less expensive. Because it's less expensive and would preserve the charm and beauty of the existing setting, I like the second alternative.
Quinton is right. Kudzu Hill is an integral part of the Foley Field experience and a major factor in maintaining whatever home field advantage the Diamond Dogs enjoy. This is self-evident to anyone who saw the banners reading "You can’t spell super regional without UGA" and "Give us your lunch money, nerds" at the start of last year’s playoff run.
Kudzu Hill is to Foley Field what the railroad tracks were to Sanford Stadium. The "track people" were vocal in their support of the ‘Dawgs during home football games; one might even say that they were the embodiment of the lyric: "There ain’t nothing finer in the land than a drunk, obnoxious Georgia fan!"
The realities of geography necessitated that the railroad track tradition be consigned to history when the east end zone was enclosed. There simply was no other direction in which to expand Sanford Stadium, given the existence of the bridge at the opposite end of the arena.
Foley Field is not hamstrung by the same constraints. We really can have our cake and eat it, too. The athletic administration in Athens can preserve a unique and valuable part of Foley Field’s heritage, expand the facility that is home to Georgia’s oldest varsity sport, and save money in the process.
Given the cash that is being pumped into a Red and Black basketball program that has underperformed consistently since time immemorial, it isn’t too much to ask that a little coin be set aside to upgrade Foley Field for the Diamond Dogs, who finally are starting to draw crowds commensurate with their achievements on the field and who appear poised to establish themselves as an annual postseason participant.