Now that Lambert Field has been retired, the Purdue baseball team is left without a home ballpark until the new Alexander field is finished.
In the midst of the program’s greatest season in history, it is expected to be chosen to host a regional the first weekend of June. The problem is, the University doesn’t have an adequate stadium for hosting. The old ballpark, Lambert Field, doesn’t meet the fan capacity requirements and also lacks lights. When asked about where the regional would be held, head coach Doug Schreiber is uncertain.
“I still don’t have a definitive answer on that,” Schreiber said. “We’re looking at Gary. That’s the leading candidate right now.”
The rail yard in Gary, Ind. was built just over 10 years ago and holds 6,000 people. The Gary South Shore RailCats are a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
“Gary is a great ballpark,” Schreiber said. “It needs a little spit shine to it, but we’re willing to put in some of that work. The surrounding area isn’t the best in terms of hotels, restaurants and things like that. That’s a minor concern I would say, but right now it is the leading candidate.”
Gary wasn’t the team’s first option. Officials looked at minor league stadiums in Indianapolis, South Bend and Ft. Wayne, Ind. but each of those teams are home the desired weekend.
“Literally every minor league team in the Midwest is home that weekend, it seems,” Schreiber said. “I know there has been a few phone calls made late. I don’t know if anything is going to come of that though.”
There were rumors the team was interested in playing at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The Cubs are away that weekend and hopes were high to play host in “the friendly confines” but that has diminished recently.
Alexander Field, the future home of the Boilermakers, located northwest of campus by the Grand Prix track, is almost completed. The field looks playable and the seats and benches are in place but there is glass and interior work to be completed. The main problem stopping the stadium from being ready is being up to code in time with enough bathrooms and fire alarms for the fans of four teams that qualify.
At 40-10 on the season, the Boilermakers are almost a lock to qualify, but stumbling late in the season would swap concern of ballpark amenities to concern for where the NCAA sends them.
“We still have to get our work done at Iowa,” Schreiber said, “and also through the Big Ten Tournament and see where it takes us.”
There are still two weekends of baseball to be played for Purdue before Regionals start. If Purdue is not a host, it is expected that the Midwest will lack a Regional site.
The Boilers recently defeated fellow Midwest powerhouse this season, Indiana State 2-1 on Tuesday, an opponent that the team expects to meet again.
“It was important to play a team like this midweek,” junior third baseman Cameron Perkins said. “I’m sure we will see them again.”