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ASU baseball ready to start writing new history at new stadium

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History. Tradition. Legacy.

These words describe Packard Stadium, the former home of Arizona State baseball. But ASU’s baseball team is excited to start writing a new history at a new home, Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

“New year, new season, new coaching staff,” junior left-hander Ryan Kellogg said. “Just a whole new era of Sun Devil baseball.”

Arizona natives may have made a visit or two to Phoenix Municipal Stadium during spring train-ing to see the Oakland Athletics, the stadium’s former tenants. But when the Athletics moved to Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, the Sun Devils swooped in on the A’s old home.

ASU wasted no time making the field its own, spending $3 million renovating the stadium originally built in 1974. Gone is the Athletics green and yellow color scheme, replaced by Sun Devil maroon and gold. The scoreboard has a pitchfork on it, the outfield signs depict ASU Hall of Famers and in right-center field, a PT42 sign, the ultimate stamp of Sun Devil approval. The renovation also included a new clubhouse for the players as well as batting cages and other performance facilities.

ASU closed the book on Packard Stadium in 2014, finishing with a disappointing 33-24 record, the worst under then-coach Tim Esmay. After the season, Esmay resigned and ASU hired Indiana coach Tracy Smith

Packard Stadium housed ASU baseball for 40 years but when an opportunity came for a new stadium, it was too good to pass up. ASU saw what the University of Arizona did in 2012. The Wildcats moved out of their on-campus field to Hi Corbett Field in 2012 and saw their attendance jump and even won a national title. Packard showed its age with an old scoreboard and outdated press box, as well as other things that happen when a stadium reaches its 40th birth-day.

“Not to bash Packard, but it was old,” junior left-hander Brett Lilek said. “I thought it was time for a newer, updated facility and that’s what we got.”

Junior catcher RJ Ybarra said Phoenix Municipal still has the new feel to it and lauded the locker rooms and amenities that most fans won’t see.

“What they’ve done here has way exceeded anything I could have imagined,” Ybarra said. “It’s almost like home. You feel like you don’t need to leave because you have everything here.”

ASU writes the first chapter of the Phoenix Municipal Stadium book Friday, when it welcomes Oklahoma State to town for a three-game series. Between the new stadium, the new coach and the new student section next to the visitors’ dugout, the atmosphere figures to be electric.

“I expect this place to be packed,” Ybarra said. “Pumped, ready for the Devils to take on 2015.”