UCLA's softball stadium facelift under way
By Gilbert Quinonez Daily Bruin

Los Angeles, CA (U-WIRE) -- Easton Stadium, the home of the UCLA softball team, is undergoing major renovations in an effort to expand the seating area and move the facility into the ranks of the better stadiums in college softball.

These renovations weren't complete by UCLA's first home game of the season on Tuesday, as the fans were confined to temporary bleachers on one side of the field, which will stay there through Thursday's doubleheader against Utah State.

The temporary wooden bleachers that had been in place at Easton Stadium for over a decade are now gone, and are being replaced by 1,300 chair-back seats with stadium-style seating.

"I'm thoroughly excited about getting those stadium seats," UCLA coach Sue Enquist said.

"When you look at everything right now, we'll have the largest theater seat-style stadium in the Pac-10 and we already have a great playing surface and clubhouse," she said. "There's not a stadium around that can hold up to that."

After Thursday's games, construction will resume and is expected to be completed before the Bruins' next home game on April 15 against Arizona State.

One of the reasons the stadium seating was renovated and expanded was to accommodate the large number of fans who attend the marquee home games of the year, like the games against Arizona, according to Ken Weiner, the associate athletic director who is overseeing the renovation project.

"When you make improvements, you want to make them to the best of your ability with the amount of funding you have available," Weiner said.

In addition to the stadium seating, the entrance to Easton Stadium is being redesigned to be more fan friendly. According to Weiner, the goal is to make the entrance to Easton Stadium look more like an old-time East Coast baseball stadium and "in due time, cover it with ivy."

Money for the project came from private funds.

Enquist hopes the stadium renovations will help bring more fans to Easton Stadium, especially students.

Currently students make up a low percentage of the fans that go to UCLA softball games.

"I hope students take a long lunch break and come up and watch us play," Enquist said. "Who knows, you might fall in love with the game. It's a fast-paced game."

UTAH STATE COMES TO TOWN: The Bruins will play a doubleheader against Utah State on Thursday, starting at 1 p.m. The Aggies are 6-9 this season.

Admission will be free for all fans, but seating is restricted due to the ongoing renovations.

(C) 2004 Daily Bruin via U-WIRE


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