UNCG Baseball Stadium is a fine ballpark. The seats are comfortable. It is spacious and clean, with a wide concrete concourse flanked by an impressive field house to the left and the actual field to the right, leading fans from Stirling Avenue directly into the stadium. The field itself is pristine, tended to by a scrupulous grounds team. The infield soil is a deep, reddish brown, uniformly raked of any ultisol clasts lingering in the base paths. The outfield, even in winter, is a bold and bright green, cut so smoothly it could be a verdant canvas if there were not D1 athletes running down fly balls on it.
For such an exceptional facility, the place sure does have a boring name.
Yes, it is literally named “UNCG Baseball Stadium.” That’s not a colloquialism that stuck, nothing like, “Hey, meet me by the UNCG Baseball Stadium” and then people ran with it. Nope, that is the place’s real name. It is the stadium’s name on Google, official reports, placards and everywhere else. That is like naming McDonalds or Wendys “The Lunch Places” or instead of giving an athlete a nickname like “Magic” Johnson, he is now “Talented basketball player” Johnson.
Since its inaugural year in 1991, UNCG has developed a solid mid-major baseball program. The Spartans are fresh off a SoCon championship and an appearance in the College World Series regionals, and the team is already off to another promising start this year. It is an exciting time to be a UNCG baseball fan, yet it is rather unexciting to stroll into a ballpark named “UNCG Baseball Stadium.”
The time has come for a new moniker.
How about Spartan Stadium, or maybe Spartan Ballpark? Something along those lines. Albeit, it’s only a hair more creative than the current name, but at least it stirs up some pride within the Spartan faithful. After all, while it may be the baseball team taking the field, they are part of a much larger Spartan community.
UNCG is clearly big on fan involvement, as shown by their successful #BelieveInTheG fundraising campaign last month. Changing the ballpark’s name to Spartan Stadium would be a logical next step to pay tribute to those fans, and possibly secure a few extra donations to boot.
Then comes the idea of naming it after a person. The first one who comes to mind is Mike Gaski, head coach of UNCG Baseball from its inception in 1991 to 2012 and the current President of the Board for the United States National Baseball Team. He won 657 games with the Spartans and oversaw a tremendous amount of growth within the program. Gaski is the one who set up the team for its future success, and, being UNCG Baseball’s first head coach, he is as deserving as anyone of having the ballpark named after him. Besides, “Gaski Stadium” has a pretty nice ring to it.
Another possibility is honoring one (or a number) of the extremely generous donors that fund scholarships and renovations and upkeep of the stadium. Some Spartan Club members annually donate tens of thousands of dollars to UNCG athletics; those members with a vested commitment to baseball are as deserving as anyone of having the stadium named after them.
The same line of thought also applies to any of the myriad of corporate sponsors that UNCG baseball has, though renaming the ballpark to “PNC Stadium” wouldn’t be much of an improvement, in terms of originality. They already have plenty of stuff named after them.
Those are just a few ideas to start. Of course, all in all, it’s just a name. One of the most beautiful ballparks in college baseball, UNCG Baseball Stadium remains the class of the SoCon. That’s not going to change any time soon, regardless of the stadium’s name.