A massive University of Evansville logo, painted in the school’s colors of purple, white, and orange, looms behind home plate at the German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium. Set off by the green of the brand-new AstroTurf laid during recent renovations, it makes quite a statement piece for an “office.”
UE baseball head coach Wes Carroll says it’s a dream come true.
“I’ve been working on it for about 11 years,” says the Newburgh, Indiana, native and former UE player. “It started whenever it was announced I got the job on July 2, 2008. The vision I had was for a facility upgrade. It’s a full gut job and remodel. We’re already seeing great dividends on the recruiting trail.”
Though Carroll has worked for the renovation of the playing field at Charles H. Braun Stadium since he took the position of head coach, the project was able to kick off in 2019 with the help of a financial commitment from German American Bank. The promise was for a complete renovation of the playing surface, padded walls, fence lines, dugouts, bullpen, and scoreboard.
“Every step of the way, communication with German American Bank was first class. They were such a pleasure to get to know,” says Carroll. “I was so proud to be able to get to share my vision. They understood it, they bought into it, and they really wanted to be a part of it. They were hands-on through the process.”
Work started on Nov. 7, 2019, and took five months to complete — the end result showcasing a state-of-the-art AstroTurf Game Day Diamond series field, graded to the ideal levelness and featuring a new draining system underneath to avoid flooding. The turf also contains a combination of sand and rubber to allow ground balls to hit and play as realistically as possible. Overall, the field has a 15-year life span and can be replaced easily once it is needed. New padded walls to enclose the stadium, a new LED scoreboard thanks to a donation from the Braun family, and more set off the field as well.
“It’s a big morale boost to our student athletes to be able to practice and develop at a state-of-the-art facility now,” says Carroll. “The first week of us stepping out on the turf, it was just a shot of adrenaline in our program and our players.”
That morale boost was seen when the UE baseball team took to the field for the first time on March 10 against Indiana University. In front of a crowd of more than 1,000, the Purple Aces took a 5-4 win over the IU Hoosiers. But the effects of the field are expected to reach far beyond the scope of the team.
With a new, up-to-date field, Carroll expects to host a significant number of tournaments, both on the college and high school level. That means an economic impact from traveling teams and fans that benefits local restaurants, hotels, retail, and more.
“The determination and what we went through as a program, with the deterioration of our field … this really breathes some life into our program,” says Carroll. “And it’s just going to be so impactful and really impact a significant amount of kids’ sports organizations throughout the area.”