Fresh off its first Big West Championship in 33 years, UC Santa Barbara baseball could see even brighter days ahead.
For the first time ever, UCSB has installed lights in its home ballpark, Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
“We think it’s transformational for the program,” UCSB athletic director John McCutcheon said.
Gauchos fans, coaches and players have wanted the lights for years, but construction delays got in the way. Recently, issues with placing light pole foundations in the soil delayed the project.
“We just had to do our due diligence and the engineers had to figure out the right way to do it,” McCutcheon said. “And sometimes, that takes a little bit longer than you’d like. But the endgame is that we’re doing it the right way and the lights are gonna be a great edition.”
Thursday, the light poles finally went up around the stadium. They should be functional in early September, after wiring is complete.
Previously, the Gauchos had to play all of their home games during the day. Now, the team will add night games for the 2020 season.
“It’ll enable us to have Friday night games,” McCutcheon said. “Get the community more involved, more access. Also with our student body as well.”
The gauchos already felt a home-field advantage in 2019, going 27-3 at home. Night games could bring even bigger crowds and more energy.
Outfielder Michael McAdoo graduated this year, but still stopped by the park Thursday to see the progress.
“I’m not even playing and i’m so excited!” he said.
McAdoo first heard about the idea to install lights at UCSB back when he was in high school.
“This is the coolest thing ever,” McAdoo said. “Eight years later these lights are up. And they look great. They’re the new nice ones too.”
The lights will also allow the Gauchos to host NCAA Regionals in their home park. The last time UCSB hosted a regional, they had to do so in Lake Elsinore in order to play in an approved ballpark, with lights.
The lights could also be a sign of more upgrades to come.
“This will lead to other improvements,” McCutcheon said. “It’s already led to other improvements. Not just for baseball, but for other facilities on campus. And we just need to keep that momentum going.”