Progress being made on new SIU baseball stadium


WPSD Sports

CARBONDALE, IL-- Construction crews have been busy at Abe Martin Field, demolishing almost everything that was once there. Saluki baseball coach Ken Henderson says a new field will not replace the memories made at Abe Martin the last half century.

"The history is going to remain," said Henderson. "It's still going to be Abe Martin Field, and it's still going to be on the same site, and so no one is going to take that history away from us."

But plenty will change. As Henderson pointed to, the field itself will still be called 'Abe Martin Field,' but it will be apart of a larger facility referred to as 'Itchy Jones Stadium.' And new memories will be made at the state of the art stadium, which includes field turf, lights, and updated amenities for fans, which is expected to help boost attendance.

Of all the things changing, one thing that is untouched is 'The Hill,' where Saluki fans of all ages have watched the games for a different vantage point, for decades.

"Everybody has something about their facility that's theirs, and 'The Hill' is ours," admitted director of facilities Andy Pettit. "We aren't going to touch that hill, it will actually be improved. We're sinking the dugouts, so the view over the dugouts will be better from 'The Hill.'

But for the first time ever, everyone will be charged admission. Pettit says they haven't yet decided what that charge will be, but it will not be expensive.

Henderson says that as bright as the future is for the Salukis, they'll be worth the price of admission.

"I think it's the most exciting time in my twenty-four years here," Henderson said. "And I think it's one of the most exciting programs in the midwest right now."

As long as the weather co-operates, construction crews are planning to lay field turf down in November, and the new stadium will be unveiled in the spring.