By Vincent Barone 

Over the recent months, construction workers undertook several major athletic renovation projects at Stony Brook, including complete makeovers of the university’s track and baseball field.

Both experienced varying levels of success. Though the Stony Brook Arena construction plans, another major renovation, remains up in the air.

Track Field Renovations

The track field renovation, financed by part of the university’s Central Fund, has gone swimmingly thus far and should be completed on schedule, this April. For Track & Field Head Coach Andrew Ronan, the remodeling couldn’t have come sooner. “How can I say this, [the field] was in horrendous condition. We didn’t, or couldn’t, really hold practices on it,” he said.

The unkempt infield has been replaced with a FieldTurf surface, which is currently hosting soccer practices. Now construction will halt, as workers must wait for April’s sultry weather to lay down the tar for the 400-yard track appropriately.

“The field will help us build a stronger program and attract more recruits. Those are the two most important things,” said Ronan, who is anticipating hosting an America East track & field conference championship on the new premises in four years, an event that he maintains would not have been possible without the reconstruction.

The revamping of the basketball arena and the baseball field, on the other hand, has not gone as smoothly. Unforeseen obstacles have stymied the remodeling of both facilities, intruding on the praxis of both teams.

Baseball Field Renovations

Eighteen games into the baseball season and there is still nary a blade of grass on Joe Nathan Field, home of Stony Brook’s baseball team. Construction should have wrapped up in time for the Seawolves’ home opener against Fairly Dickinson on March 9, but the inclement weather during the winter months significantly hindered production. Instead, there is a spotlight were the pitcher’s mound should be and a work van positioned at shortstop.

“Very simply, it’s been the snow,” said Sports Information Director Thomas Chen. “Work had to virtually halt over January.”

A $500,000 donation from Stony Brook alumnus and Minnesota Twin Joe Nathan completely funded the renovations of the field, which are vast. The dugout and bleachers are getting touched up, the field itself will get a new turf coat and the outfield fences will be realigned. Chen hopes that the field will be game-ready for conference play, which kicks off April 9.

For now, Baseball Heaven sports complex, located roughly 16 miles from campus in Yaphank, N.Y., is the ersatz diamond for the Seawolves, who have won both “home” games they’ve played there.

Stony Brook Arena renovations

Chen could not speculate, however, on the repairs of the Stony Brook Arena. The state-allocated $20,000,000 for building renovations is on an absolute freeze, as the Stony Brook administration works out the 2011 budget. Athletic Director Jim Fiore is speaking with President Samuel Stanley and local politicians to help free the money and begin renovations.

This past season, Stony Brook’s men’s and women’s basketball teams played the majority of their home games in Pritchard Gymnasium, which is about the size of an average high school’s gym, because of the necessary structural repair to the Stony Brook Arena.

This plan is pressing for the men’s basketball team, which cannot support nationally televised games in the intimate confines of Pritchard Gymnasium. For the men’s BracketBuster game against Maine on Feb. 12, which aired on ESPNU, the university had to pump $50, 000 dollars to patch up the arena in order to host the game.