July 11, 2005
The University of Missouri baseball team broke in the millennium with a new $2.1 million home, consisting of a new stadium and scoreboard and improved fencing and lighting. The stadium was the final major project on the west grounds of the MU Sports Park.
The facility, officially named Ralph and Debbie Taylor/ Phi Delta Theta Stadium at Simmons Field (or Taylor Stadium at Simmons Field), was constructed to accomplish a variety of goals set by the baseball coaching staff and MU's athletic department.
The ultimate goal in the construction of the stadium was to create a fan-friendly facility to encourage a family ballpark atmosphere. The stadium boosted seating capacity only slightly to 2,200, but fans can enjoy many features, including a better view of the playing field, an expanded concession area and improved restroom facilities. The stadium even cut down the amount of wind that reaches patrons and provided them with some of the most-relaxing and satisfying experiences in all of Big 12 Conference baseball.
Another goal was to create an aesthetically pleasing facility. The stadium is composed of red bricks, green metal roofs and black steel, along with block and drivit - the look of traditional American baseball stadium that is sure to survive the test of time. The look also accompanies the look of other recently built MU athletic facilities.
The stadium also provides a comfortable game-day working area for coaches, officials and maintenance personnel. It also has impressive meeting rooms and plenty of storage.
Finally, Taylor Stadium was designed to be able to host an NCAA regional tournament, something the Tigers have not done since the 1960s. All of the Big 12 schools have either built a new stadium in the last two years or already possessed an outstanding facility. Missouri now has one of the most fan-friendly stadiums in the league and the state's most dynamic collegiate baseball facility. Every university baseball program strives to be able to offer something unique with its stadium. Taylor Stadium at Simmons Field is sure to be known as the most complete and the most fan-friendly in the entire region. It was ranked the fourth-best facility in the Big 12 by Big12baseball.net.
In addition, the stadium serves as home to minor league baseball, as the University entered into an agreement with the City of Columbia and the Mid-Missouri Mavericks to serve as the home facility for the independent Frontier League's games. The Mavericks will begin their third year in Columbia this May.
Taylor Stadium at Simmons Field, contracted by Crawford Construction Inc. and designed by Peckham & Wright Architects Inc., became a reality after Ralph and Debbie Taylor of Prairie Village, Kan., presented a gift of $1 million to the University in 1998 to spark funding for the project, which broke ground in June, 1999. Ralph Taylor, an MU alumnus, has a long-standing relationship with the University and its athletic department.
Another generous offer was made by the family of Michael Haverty. Haverty's son Mike was an All-Big Eight pitcher for Mizzou during the 1993-94 campaign.
Fans at Taylor Stadium are closer to the action than ever before. Foul territory was sacrificed to put fans closer to the playing field. The true "stadium-style" seating has fans closer to the field running from dugout-to-dugout.
Of the 2,200-capacity seating, 537 spots are special seat-back chairs. Fans can sponsor these chairs for a $1,000 donation per seat. A commemorative plate has been affixed to the back of the seat to recognize those who do sponsor the seats and those sponsors will have the opportunity to purchase season tickets for their seats.
The media covering Mizzou baseball will be working in one of the best, most-equipped facilities in all of the Big 12. Taylor Stadium provides a professional, spacious and comfortable workplace for writers, broadcasters and members of the MU athletic department. A clear view of the field from an elevated workplace awaits members of the working media.
The enclosed, heated press box, which sits 52 feet off of the ground directly behind home plate, is accessible by elevator. The press box is also equipped with numerous phone lines and a restroom for the media.
The press box contains three broadcast booths, an operation control booth, a games-operation booth and also a hospitality suite which stretches along the third-base line.
Photographers also have access to a balcony on the first-base side of the press box for filming games.
In addition to the balcony location that can be used for filming, photographers also have access to camera locations located above the end of each dugout. These decks are approximately eight feet off the ground and give photographers a clear view of the entire playing field.
Members of the MU baseball team and coaching staff have a secure and spacious area to prepare and dress for all home games.
The clubhouse, which is located within the stadium under the main seating area, is accessible both via tunnel from the home dugout and from the outer concourse. Restroom facilities, a game-day coach's office and a dressing area are all available for the members of the home team at Taylor Stadium.
Game-day officials also delight in Taylor Stadium's facilities. Umpires have their own space located in the stadium next to the clubhouse to change and prepare before the first pitch.
Refreshments are available at a concession area on the stadium's outer concourse, which is located behind the main seating area, during all home Mizzou baseball games. The expanded facility offers patrons a variety of snacks to enjoy during Mizzou games. An area dedicated to providing patrons with a place to purchase a variety of items - everything from clothing to soft drinks - is available on the concourse on the first-base side of the stadium.
Located on the first-base side of the Taylor Stadium are the offices for the Missouri coaching staff.
Not only do fans have a much better view at Taylor Stadium, but players and coaches also have a better look at the action with the construction of more spacious and higher-sitting dugouts.
The dugouts, which are 56 feet long and 11 feet from front to back, offer both home and visiting players the amenities of professional teams' stadiums. Visiting teams, in addition to the extra space, can also access their own restroom from the visiting dugout. Members of Mizzou's baseball team can access restrooms, the coach's game-day office and the clubhouse from the home dugout via a tunnel.
Mizzou baseball fans can enter Taylor Stadium from a formal gate with a ticket booth. The area, which is the entrance for both fans and media, was designed to match the look and feel of the rest of the stadium.
The sights and sounds of Mizzou baseball are amplified with the addition of the stadium's scoreboard and a dynamic stadium sound system.
The scoreboard contains a dot-matrix message center, line score and personalized team names - all guarded by a nearly invisible protective net.
One of the more exciting features of the complex is the dynamic sound system. Speakers are located throughout the stadium and will keep those in the restroom or purchasing refreshments tuned into all the action. The main speakers are located inside the scoreboard to give the crowd a true stadium sound.
The actual playing surface is handled by the Missouri coaching staff with the help of turf consultant Brad Fresenburg and the MU Maintenance Staff.
The dimensions of the symmetrical playing surface are 340 feet down the lines, 375 to the power alleys and 400 feet to center field.
The natural grass surface is one of the best playing surfaces in the country. Before the 2002 campaign, the infield was totally resurfaced.
The infield now has Quickstand Bermuda grass. Taylor Stadium/Simmons Field is one of only two facilities in the country to have a cool season grass (Kentucky Bluegrass) outfield and a Bermuda infield. Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium is the other.
Another unique part about Taylor Stadium/Simmons Field is the gray/black (when wet) infield "dirt." Very few facilities, such as Jacobs Field in Cleveland and Fenway Park in Boston, have the new gray material from Turface.
The Tiger staff resurfaced the areas outside the infield prior to the 2000 season. The staff has also improved the visiting bullpen area.
Simmons Field is truly one of the finest playing surfaces in the country and was recognized as the Field-of-the-Year in 1993 by the American Baseball Coaches Association.