UBC opens new $3.5 million baseball training facility

After three months of construction, UBC baseball has officially opened its $3.5 million indoor training facility.

“The players and coaches feel a tremendous sense of pride.... We also feel lucky to have this space to gather as a group and play and practice and get better,” said Chris Pritchett, the newly hired head coach of UBC baseball.

Located directly beside the current baseball field, the new 12,500 square foot building is air-conditioned and contains four batting cages along with a pitching area. The facility is equipped with various state-of-the-art video cameras and simulators to analyze the batting and pitching performances of players. The design of the facility also allows for a high level of versatility in the drills that can take place inside.

“It’s a highly functional place because the netting is so uniquely drawn up.... You can really get a lot done with a little creativity,” said Pritchett.

Terry McKaig, director of UBC baseball, describes the technology inside the new building as “a video game where you actually get to hit the ball." He said that in addition to monitoring the progress of the players, the technology would make baseball practices more engaging.

“You have to have a place that when the [players] come and experience it for the first time, they want to come back because they have something that engaged them and made it so fun,” said McKaig.

Another advantage of this indoor facility is that it will allow for players to train even when weather conditions are unsuitable for outdoor practice. Since baseball players typically do not get the chance to practice on the field during winter, this facility would maximize the amount of practice time that players get throughout the year.

“We don’t have venues here in Vancouver.... If you can get kids in here hitting way more than they ever have before, they are going to be better players next summer out on the field,” said McKaig.

The training facility is open not just for the varsity baseball team as it will also offer training sessions for youth programs in the area as well.

The proposal for this facility was the result of a sports review in 2014 that gave hybrid status for UBC. Funding for this facility came from an anonymous donor and construction began in May 2015. An $8 million 1,000-seat stadium is also currently underway for the baseball program.