Construction and renovation seem to be themes of the summer 2017 for BYU, with the newly completed addition to the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC) and the continuing progress on the new engineering building. Add one more project to that list: renovation of the Miller Field for the BYU baseball team.
The project began in June and finished in time for the fall semester to start. Construction crews have torn out the natural grass and will be replacing the entire field with artificial turf. In addition, a heater will be installed beneath the surface.
The new turf will allow the team to hold more practices in January. The underground heater can keep up with approximately four to six inches of snow per hour—allowing the team to practice during winter months.
“It’s a competitive advantage, and it closes that gap between us and the warm-weather schools,” said BYU baseball coach Mike Littlewood.
On the old Miller Field, left field was five feet higher than home plate. This was one of the main reasons for the decision to install artificial turf; the turf will increase playability and safety.
“When people see it [the field], they’re going to think it’s a natural grass field. It’s going to look just like natural grass. It will be pretty amazing. It’s going to be big league,” Littlewood said.
The turf being used for Miller Field comes in different heights, so the dirt area will play like dirt and the grass area will play like grass. The focus of the project is to make it as much like a natural grass field as possible, while making the field almost completely artificial turf. The only real dirt will be in one of the three bullpens.
Other schools have all-artificial turf sports fields like the one being installed at BYU, but BYU will be the only school with a heater underneath the baseball field.
Littlewood and associate athletic director Brian Santiago visited Atlanta last spring to scout out artificial turf companies. They decided on the company who worked on the Green Bay Packers’ field, the Minnesota Twins’ field, and the Tampa Bay Rays’ field.
“They know what they’re doing,” said Littlewood concerning the turf company.
Dave Decker, former BYU baseball player, donated one million dollars to help pay for the heater.
“He came through big time,” said Littlewood of Decker.
Littlewood played baseball for BYU from 1985 to 1988. He was named the head coach of the Cougars in June 2012.