Alfred A. McKethan Stadium

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Alfred A. McKethan Stadium
"The Mac"
McKethan Stadium Panoramic View.jpg
Alfred A. McKethan Stadium is located in Florida
Alfred A. McKethan Stadium
Alfred A. McKethan Stadium
Location in Florida
Alfred A. McKethan Stadium is located in the United States
Alfred A. McKethan Stadium
Alfred A. McKethan Stadium
Location in the United States
Full nameAlfred A. McKethan Stadium at Perry Field
Former namesPerry Field (1949–1988)
Address2190 Stadium Road
LocationGainesville, Florida, 32611
CoordinatesCoordinates: 29°38′58″N 82°21′12″W / 29.649350°N 82.353332°W / 29.649350; -82.35333229° 38′ 57.66″ N
82° 21′ 11.99″ W
OwnerUniversity of Florida
OperatorUniversity Athletic Association
TypeStadium
Genre(s)Baseball
Seating type2,408 grandstand chairback
2,692 grandstand bleacher
400 outfield bleacher
Capacity5,500 (2007-2020)
5,000 (1998-2006)
4,300 (1996-1997)
3,300 (1988–1995)
Record attendance6,244
Field sizeLF: 326 ft (99.4 m)
LC: 365 ft (111.3 m)
CF: 400 ft (121.9 m)
RC: 375 ft (114.3 m)
RF: 321 ft (97.8 m)
SurfaceGrass
ScoreboardDaktronics
Construction
Broke ground1987
Built1988
Opened1949 (field)
1988 (stadium)
Demolished2020
Construction cost$16.5 million
Tenants
Florida Gators baseball (NCAA) 1949–2020
Website
Alfred A. McKethan Stadium

Alfred A. McKethan Stadium at Perry Field was the college baseball stadium of the University of Florida, serving as the home field for the Florida Gators baseball team until being replaced by Florida Ballpark in 2020. McKethan Stadium was located on the university's Gainesville, Florida campus, in close proximity to the university's indoor sports arena, the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, and its football stadium, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.[1]

Namesakes[edit]

The stadium facility was named for Alfred A. McKethan, a University of Florida alumnus and successful Florida banker, businessman, and politician who contributed significant funds for the reconstruction and expansion of the stadium. McKethan donated the equivalent of $800,000 for the reconstruction and improvement of the stadium in the 1980s and 1990s.

The playing field was named for Carl E. "Tootie" Perry, a former Florida Gators football player who was the Gators' first All-Southern selection in 1920 and 1921 and team captain in 1921. Perry's family formerly owned the land on which the baseball stadium was built, and donated the land to the university.[1]

History[edit]

In the earliest years of baseball at the University of Florida, club teams played at a field in downtown Gainesville's Porters Community. In 1911, the team moved on campus to Fleming Field, where the northern endzone of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium stands today. The varsity team was founded in 1912 and continued to play at Fleming Field through 1948. Eventually, an expansion to the football stadium forced the team to move 500 yards southwest to Perry Field.[2]

Wanting to improve college baseball facilities in the state of Florida, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner provided funds for the university to install lights at Perry Field in 1977.[3] Perry Field went on to host three exhibitions (in 1977, 1981, and 1987) where the Gators faced the Yankees. The most memorable of these was the March 23, 1977 contest, where an overflowing crowd of 3,820 saw the Gators mount a valiant effort in an 10-9 defeat.[4]

Perry Field was further improved in 1981 with a $10,000 donation by former catcher Tom Shannon. A home team dugout, training room, and storage area were added to the facility. A notorious hill in left field, which rose 30 feet to the wall, proved an imposing obstacle to visiting outfielders.

Funded by Alfred McKethan, other athletic boosters, and the state government, a $2.4-million concrete stadium was constructed in 1987 to replace the existing bleachers at Perry Field for the 1988 season. The stadium was dedicated in McKethan's honor on February 23, 1988, before a 3-2 victory by the Gators over Miami. Initially seating 3,300 spectators (2,500 grandstand, 800 chairback), capacity was increased to 4,300 in the summer of 1995 with an expansion to the grandstand. A further $650,000 worth of renovations the following year improved the plaza surrounding the grandstand as well as the press box. New grass was installed in 1997 while 700 more seats were added along the left field line.

The final major renovation to McKethan Stadium came in 2006, when $13 million was spent to improve the stadium and the adjacent Lemerand Athletic Center. The project incorporated a new baseball-specific building, the roof of which became the Don and Irene Dizney Plaza, a location where fans could overlook the field from above the foul territory in left field. Additional seating was also built, including 400 bleacher seats in left field, increasing the capacity to 5,500. A high-resolution videoboard was added beyond right field in 2012.[2]

The Gators finished 33 seasons at McKethan Stadium after hosting 1,214 games of baseball, with 911 victories to just 303 defeats (.750). The stadium also hosted the 1989 SEC Tournament, 16 NCAA Regionals, and nine NCAA Super Regionals.[5]

NCAA Tournament at McKethan Stadium
Regionals 1989, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Super Regionals 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Won by Florida in bold

Head Coaches at McKethan Stadium
Head Coach Seasons First Last W L %
Joe Arnold 7 1988 1994 194 68 .740
Andy Lopez 7 1995 2001 193 63 .754
Pat McMahon 6 2002 2007 158 68 .699
Kevin O'Sullivan 13 2008 2020 366 104 .779

Facilities[edit]

The stadium facility was a concrete structure that seated approximately 5,500 fans, including 2,408 chairback seats around the inner diamond. The asymmetrical stadium seated about two-thirds of its spectators left of home plate. Outfield seating was limited to a section of bleachers in left field. Visible past left field was the O'Connell Center and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium behind it, while the view beyond right field was of the Graham Woods Conservation Area. The courtyard-like plaza surrounding the grandstand could host food trucks and merchandise stalls, while permanent concession facilities and restrooms were built under the grandstands themselves. A south entrance provided entry to the right field stands while a north entrance gave access to the left field stands (ticket booths were available at both entrances). Facilities included a training center, video room, staff offices, and locker rooms for both home and visiting teams. The Gators' bullpen and batting cages were enclosed, under the Dizney Plaza.[2]

Attendance and records[edit]

In 33 seasons of baseball, McKethan Stadium hosted over 3.2 million fans for Florida home games. Support was greatest in the ballpark's final 11 seasons, with an average of over 3,000 spectators per game each year. Ultimately, 61 contests drew a crowd of 5,000 or greater.[2] Attendance at McKethan Stadium peaked in 2018, the year following Florida's first national championship campaign. That season, the Gators ranked ninth among Division I baseball programs in total attendance with 165,551 persons attending 41 games and 14th in average attendance with 4,038 persons per home game.[6] In 21 of its final 23 seasons, McKethan Stadium finished in the top 15 nationally for total attendance.

The record for highest attendance in a single game at McKethan Stadium was set on April 9, 2016; a total of 6,244 spectators watched Mississippi State defeat the Gators 10-4 in the second game of a three-game series. This defeat ended the longest home winning streak in school history, a 29-game run that spanned the 2015 and 2016 campaigns. A season later, the highest total attendance record for a three-game series was made on February 26, 2017; 16,807 tickets were sold for the Gators' sweep of Miami. The best-attended two-game series in the ballpark's history was the 2015 Gainesville Super Regional, when 11,481 fans witnessed Florida sweep Florida State.[2]

Florida versus Georgia at McKethan Stadium in 2018
Annual Records
Season Head Coach W L % Att. Average
1988 Joe Arnold 27 6 .818 26,020 788
1989 Joe Arnold 31 11 .738 72,600 1,729
1990 Joe Arnold 22 14 .611 43,950 1,221
1991 Joe Arnold 32 6 .842 58,634 1,543
1992 Joe Arnold 30 11 .732 88,312 2,154
1993 Joe Arnold 23 12 .657 45,685 1,305
1994 Joe Arnold 29 8 .784 58,883 1,591
1995 Andy Lopez 26 7 .788 57,151 1,732
1996 Andy Lopez 32 7 .821 91,123 2,336
1997 Andy Lopez 27 9 .750 88,539 2,459
1998 Andy Lopez 35 5 .875 105,262 2,632
1999 Andy Lopez 22 14 .611 82,236 2,284
2000 Andy Lopez 25 11 .694 63,385 1,761
2001 Andy Lopez 26 10 .722 53,312 1,481
2002 Pat McMahon 32 9 .780 86,251 2,104
2003 Pat McMahon 31 6 .838 67,033 1,812
2004 Pat McMahon 27 9 .750 80,686 2,241
2005 Pat McMahon 32 11 .744 112,110 2,607
2006 Pat McMahon 19 16 .543 123,022 3,515
2007 Pat McMahon 17 17 .500 106,956 3,146
2008 Kevin O'Sullivan 27 6 .818 96,235 2,916
2009 Kevin O'Sullivan 30 10 .750 119,252 2,981
2010 Kevin O'Sullivan 33 3 .917 126,195 3,505
2011 Kevin O'Sullivan 34 7 .829 153,904 3,754
2012 Kevin O'Sullivan 31 8 .795 153,484 3,935
2013 Kevin O'Sullivan 20 16 .555 126,421 3,512
2014 Kevin O'Sullivan 23 13 .639 115,059 3,196
2015 Kevin O'Sullivan 33 6 .846 138,441 3,550
2016 Kevin O'Sullivan 34 5 .872 154,743 3,968
2017 Kevin O'Sullivan 31 10 .756 156,768 3,824
2018 Kevin O'Sullivan 33 8 .805 165,551 4,038
2019 Kevin O'Sullivan 26 11 .703 141,491 3,824
2020 Kevin O'Sullivan 11 1 .917 47,865 3,989
Total 911 303 .750 3,206,559 2,641

Replacement[edit]

Florida Ballpark at McKethan Field opened for the 2021 season

On October 9, 2017, the University Athletic Association submitted a project plan to the University of Florida outlining a new baseball stadium that was expected to begin construction in September 2018 and be completed by the end of 2019 with a budget of $50 million.[7] Following delays, construction ultimately began February 2019 and concluded in August 2020, with a finished budget of approximately $65 million.[8]

The new stadium increased available chairbacks from 2,408 to 4,000 with 700 club seats and an expandable capacity of about 10,000. The design includes a 360-degree concourse, shade canopy, and open air seated grandstand.[9]

The new facility is located on the Southwest part of campus, adjacent to Pressly Stadium and Dizney Stadium, utilizing 13.63 acres (5.52 ha) of land previously occupied by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF/IFAS). UF/IFAS facilities on this property were relocated to a nearby part of campus.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b GatorZone.com, Facilities, McKethan Stadium at Perry Field Archived 2007-10-11 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Alfred A. McKethan Stadium". University Athletic Assoc., Inc., FOX Sports Sun & IMG College. 2020. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  3. ^ Harley, Alexa (May 21, 2020). "Former Florida Coach Jay Bergman Looks Back On His Time With the Gators". WRUF. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  4. ^ Carter, Scott (May 11, 2018). "Carter's Corner: Bronx Bombers Part of Perry Field Lore". University Athletic Assoc., Inc., FOX Sports Sun & IMG College. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  5. ^ University of Florida Athletics Communications Department (2020). "Florida Baseball 2020 Media Supplement" (PDF). University Athletic Assoc., Inc., FOX Sports Sun & IMG College. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  6. ^ "Baseball Attendance Records (2018)" (PDF). NCAA. 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  7. ^ "UAA-41 Baseball Project" (PDF). University of Florida University Athletic Association. 2017-10-09. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  8. ^ "Florida's new baseball stadium, football facility delayed a year". CBS Interactive. 2018-12-12. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  9. ^ "Florida Ballpark". University Athletic Assoc., Inc., FOX Sports Sun & IMG College. 2020-08-06. Retrieved 2020-09-24.
  10. ^ "Plans approved for new Florida Gators baseball stadium". Florida Gators. 2018-03-23. Retrieved 2018-03-23.

External links[edit]