The Bruins are hoping to raise $800,000 to move the backstop, improve the dugouts, install a turf infield and improve seating

George Fox University launched an $800,000 fundraising campaign to renovate its baseball facilities earlier this year and is hoping to complete the first phase of the project in the coming months.

At a cost of $250,000, Phase I will move the backstop further back from home plate, while also moving and expanding the dugouts.

The original goal was to have Phase I funded by May 31. According to alumni parent Chris Mason, who is chairman of the effort, nearly $200,000 has been raised and as soon as the goal is reached, construction can begin.

“It’s going well, but we need to get the word out,” Mason said. “That’s the biggest challenge because people want to help and they want to participate. Most people, if they know about it, get involved.”

Moving the backstop would be the first step in making it possible for George Fox to host NCAA events, like a regional tournament, but it will also have to install lights to qualify, which isn’t part of the current renovation plan, according to head coach Marty Hunter.

Moving the backstop will also require the current press box and bleachers to be moved up to the top of the hill onto the level of the old soccer field that sits just to the northeast of the field.

“It’s going to be better for the fans because sightlines are going to be better because the stands will be elevated and the dugouts will be back,” Hunter said. “It will be much better viewing for everybody there. With space bigger than what we have now it will play more realistically on what should happen on passed balls and stuff like that because we’re so confined right now.”

Phase II, which organizers hope to have completed by August of 2015, would involve installing an artificial turf infield and renovating the press box and bleachers.

Installing a turf infield, which would prevent the Bruins from losing both practice and games to poor weather, would be the second step in combating a major problem in recent years.

The Bruins essentially played no home games in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, mostly because of drainage issues that flooded the outfield.

That was a big reason that Mason, whose son Carl pitched for the Bruins and graduated in 2012, got involved with the project.

“As a parent going to games, I noticed just how close a group it was,” Mason said. “It was very saddening as a parent when for two years in a row they had Senior Day, to recognize the graduating seniors on the team, but were unable to do it on their own field because the field was essentially unplayable.”

The drainage system was overhauled following the 2013 season and last year George Fox resumed a home schedule, but for Mason and just about everyone else involved, that just wasn’t enough.

“When you look at the field itself and compare it to all the other teams that they compete against in the same league, we have the oldest and tiredest, most worn out and most need of help one of all,” Mason said. “Marty has done just an incredible job of recruiting really talented players who want to be part of a Christian family. As a parent, I think they deserve the same playing opportunities, the same type of facilities as the other students at other schools have.”

With the current renovations transforming Colcord Field into the Stoffer Family Stadium to house both the track and field and football programs, the baseball facilities are among the oldest on campus, let alone in the Northwest Conference.

Mason, who is also pursuing his doctorate in business administration at GFU, added that there is a long-term vision to install a baseball and softball building behind the stadium on the old soccer field that would house team rooms and permanent restrooms for fans.

So far, a wide range of donations, from very small to fairly large, have poured in, but Mason believes that as word spreads, support for the project will grow.

“You’ve got a lot of students who have graduated over the last five or six years that are just now finding their place in the working world,” Mason said. “They can’t write $20,000 checks, but they can write $500 checks. It’s a lot of that and that’s the grassroots effort that we’d hoped for.”

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