Last week Evans Diamond, the home of the California Bears since 1933, held its first night game. It is the first true home night game in the program’s 121 years history, although there have been postseason night games at off campus venues. In addition to eight light poles, the stadium will also receive a new scoreboard soon which will feature a video board. The importance of these facility upgrades cannot be overstated.
Just two seasons ago, Cal was a team on the verge of elimination due to budget cuts. After exhaustive fundraising efforts saved the program, news that was announced midseason, the Bears made an improbable run to the College World Series. Now, through even more donor support, the team is taking steps to becoming more competitive on the field and financially.
Night games will make it easier for Cal baseball to be televised, increasing exposure for the program. That increased exposure could have a strong effect on the programs recruiting efforts. A well-lit stadium will also give Cal the ability to vary its practice schedule, possibly creating less conflict with the schedules of baseball student-athletes.
Attendance should see an increase as games can now be scheduled outside of the typical working hours for most fans. The new scoreboard will feature fixed advertising space. Of course, the video component opens virtually unlimited advertising avenues as well. While these features will not create an overwhelming increase in revenue, it should be enough to make a difference for the program that had its funding pulled nearly three years ago.
Considering that the team was virtually dead just two years, the progress is pretty incredible. These projects should ensure that Cal’s baseball team will maintain its success for years to come. As this baseball program continues to defy the odds, it will become the poster child for programs saved from elimination.