America’s most scenic ballpark installed 225 seats from San Diego’s very own Petco Park Feb. 19.
In 1993, Kevin Kernan of the San Diego Union-Tribune walked past PLNU’s baseball field and noticed its unique beauty. After being blown away, Kernan wrote an article about the field, titling it “America’s Most Scenic Ballpark.” This article was posted in the National Baseball American magazine along with the UT, making the nickname stick.
Carroll B. Land Stadium received its name from former Head Coach Carroll Land. Land signed onto the baseball staff when PLNU was located in Pasadena. When the university moved to Point Loma in 1973, there was space to construct a baseball field. In 1998, Land was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame. After his award, it was only fitting to name the field after Carroll B. Land because he had such a strong impact on the baseball team for 39 years. Like any other ballpark, it needed renovation. Over the years, the fence has been renewed, a new score board was installed, the club-view bow was built above the home dugout, and a new announcement board was constructed.
Steve Riddle, assistant athletic director for facilities and events, was a former employee for the San Diego Padres from 1996 to 2002. Because of Riddle’s past job, he was able to contact Mark Guglielmo, the vice president for ballpark operations for Petco Park. The stadium was renovating the left field seating area and removed 660 seats. The organization used some of the seats for spare parts but they knew they did not need all of them. After reaching out to Guglielmo, PLNU was lucky enough to get 500 seats for free.
“Our organization has always been community-minded. Being members of this community, whenever possible, we like to help out other groups such as PLNU,”
Guglielmo said. “We are thankful that we are able to provide some seats that are going to a great cause and a great university and that they will be utilized by the student body.”
The seats were transported from Petco Park to PLNU with the help of about 20 volunteers from PLNU, including some baseball players and moving company, Gorilla Movers.
“One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure,” Riddle said.
Rick Hallahan, the athletic facilities coordinator, said the seat installation procedure was difficult.
“There was a process,” Hallahan said. “Because the anchors are hidden behind the chair seat, we had to hold the chairs in place, mark them, pull them away, drill each one of those marks and them put them back up. It was pretty grueling. It wasn’t an easy task.”
The installation process for the baseball field’s seats started Monday, Feb. 16, and was finished by Thursday, Feb. 19. Hallahan believed it was crucial that the seats were installed in time for the PLNU men’s home baseball game that Friday, Feb. 20.
“For the parents and for fans it’s nice to hear ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’” Hallahan said. “That was the motivator for me when it came to installing these because it was hard to do, but we got it done in a quick time because we wanted it to be one big presentation.”
Although the seats came from a ballpark, baseball is not the only team benefiting from the new seats. PLNU is planning on installing the remaining seats near the soccer field and the tennis courts.
In 1996, seats from Angel Stadium of Anaheim were installed at PLNU. Due to their age and rust from the salt water in the air, the seats were faded and did not fold down as smoothly as they should have. It was time for a change.
“Number one, the look of it is really nice. Number two, the other seats were not going to last that much longer,” Hallahan said.
Riddle said the plastic and metal of the old seats have already been shipped to a recycling manufacturer.
Carroll B. Lad Stadium now has more seats than it previously did. Originally, there were 171 seats and now there are 225.
Danny Barnts, assistant athletic director for communications, has attended every home baseball game this season. Being a viewer from the stands, he can relate to the importance of sitting in good quality seats.
“To the players, it matters, but to the players’ parents, it matters even more.”
Barnts said that since the seats came from a fellow San Diego baseball stadium, they have a lot of meaning.
“Having the logo looks good for recruits and it is interesting that the San Diego baseball community is tied together and that the Padres were willing to pass the seats down the line,” Barnts said. “The credibility of the stadium goes up because of having the name association on the seats.”
Barnts said that PLNU has had professional teams play in Carroll B. Land Stadium because they were taking advantage of the beauty of the stadium. In past years, the New York Met’s pitching staff practiced on the field along with the Baltimore Orioles. Because PLNU’s field has drawn so much attention, Barnts believed making renovations was important.
“America’s Most Scenic Ballpark needs to be pretty,” he said.