A land donation is moving plans forward for a new baseball park and multi-sport complex at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. UALR announced on Wednesday that the Coleman family, of Coleman Dairy renown, donated eight-acres after talking with the school’s baseball coach. Little Rock Athletic Director Chasse Conque told KUAR it sets in motion plans that otherwise were off the table.
“For us to even take the next step, for us to even have the conversation of building a new park this land was really critical. Being a metropolitan campus and being somewhat landlocked anytime you can generously have folks donate or acquire land around the institution you have to take advantage of that,” said Conque.
Conque anticipates much of the development will be privately funded in multiple phases. The architectural firm Polk, Stanley and Wilcox has been hired and initial renderings are expected in a few weeks. Until then, Conque said any cost estimates or timeline is premature.
A UALR news release said the next step would be to erect a field house near the existing Trojans sports complex and student housing on the south end of campus. The current facility also bears the mark of the Coleman family. The Coleman Sports & Recreation Complex is part of 10 acres donated in 2010.
Baseball would not be the only sport to benefit according to Conque. He said soccer and track facilities housed in the existing complex would benefit as well as the gold program and administrators. Basketball, volleyball, and swimming would remain in their current training facilities.
“To be able to pull all of our complexes and all of our programs into one space that would more than anything make the argument to move forward with this project,” said Conque.
The Little Trojans baseball team has played ball at Gary Hogan Field since 1978. It received over $1.6 million in renovations in 2006. At the time the program touted it as transforming the field into “one of the top facilities in the Sun Belt Conference and in the Mid-South region.” The new park may hold 30 percent more people, up to 1,500 fans.
Conque said there is some sentimental value in moving away from the facility and notes it could take a while for designs, fundraising, and construction processes to move forward on a new field. It's one of the few truly neighborhood ballparks in NCAA and professional baseball located in a nearby off-campus neighborhood and not too far away from the demolished Ray Winder Field (one of the oldest parks in the nation and former home of the Arkansas Travelers).
“It is still a great place to play baseball.”