Owen T. Carroll Field has been on the grounds of Seton Hall University since 1907. With the most recent renovation breaking ground in March 2019 it has brought upon new traditions for the Seton Hall Pirates’ baseball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer teams whom play and practice there.
Owen T. Carroll Field is the home of the men’s and women’s soccer teams, while Mike Sheppard Sr. Stadium will be the new home to the baseball team. Creating the two new fully renovated fields did not just happen overnight. There has been talk about this specific renovation for about 3-5 years. It was proposed by former Seton Hall athletic director Pat Lyons.
I sat down with Kevin Sponzo, Seton Hall’s senior associate athletics director for facilities & operations. Since 2011, Sponzo has seen through a near complete transformation of the Richie Regan Recreation & Athletic Center, which includes a new lobby, a new fitness center, updated locker rooms for each program, a new weight room, a new center for sports medicine, and the new Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame. He was a big part of the construction and capital project of the new fields and I was able to catch up with Kevin and ask him a little background about the new Mike Sheppard Sr. Stadium and Owen T. Carroll Field.
Mia Kness: What were the improvements?
Kevin Sponzo: This renovation included a new surface, chairback seating, new bleachers, new press boxes installed with Wi-Fi which will add a digital component including better streaming and broadcasting, restrooms, and a complete baseball dugout. The new seating is more comfortable for fans given they can sit back and enjoy the games.
MK: Why did you feel a renovation was needed?
KS: This specific renovation was needed based on what fellow competitors’ facilities were doing and how to stay on track locally, regionally and nationally. What lacked before was the inconveniences for spectators and athletes. There was not a public restroom or comfortable seating in place for the fans. Nor had the turf been updated since the last renovation in 2013. This previous renovation included new turf and a new scoreboard. This renovation gives the best opportunity for our student-athletes to compete to their full potential whether it be within the Big East or nationally.
MK: What was the cost in total for this renovation?
KS: Oh boy, I’d have to check the exact amount, but this was probably in the $5-7 million range.
MK: What was the total time of the renovation? Was it on schedule?
KS: The renovation was primarily on schedule considering a few hiccups in the shipment of materials needed which came from Australia. The total time would’ve been around 10 months and was ready for our baseball team to practice on when they came back from winter break so the time couldn’t have been better.
MK: You have seen numerous renovations including the transformation of the Recreational Center… was there anything different about this renovation?
KS: Not particularly other than our athletes and coaches understanding what they are going to get in the end. This had a much larger impact to our athletes, coaches, staff and spectators and we are eternally grateful for the support and positive feedback we have been given. Our baseball team played every game on the road last season and our soccer teams traveled to every practice and they too played their home games away. With these inconveniences there was no complaining, everyone has been onboard throughout this whole process.