By Michelle Nosratian
ConstructionÂ began on a $750,000 renovation of Franklin Field in Encino, where the school has a long-term lease to play its baseball games.
Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas said that Harvard-Westlake baseball has been playing at Franklin Field for approximately the past 30 years, which has caused the playing surface to become less level.
Head Baseball Coach Matt LaCour lists new fencing, a new playing surface, new outfield configurations and new dugouts as among the biggest anticipated changes.
“The field is disproportional, the grass was dead, there were holes in the outfield, the sprinklers were broken, the drainage system didnât work, and they had to repaint the grass multiple times,” said Lucas Giolito â12, a varsity pitcher. “The field will be less dangerous, more spectator-friendly, and there will be an unobstructed view of the entire field.”
Barzdukas said that the players themselves were the inspiration behind the Franklin Field renovation project, which the schoolâs board of trustees and administration approved more than a year ago.
“[The players] kept talking with the coaches about the quality of the fields for away games,” he said.Â “And, thus, was born the idea.”
Since Franklin sits on federal land, the school has had to work closely with the Army Corp of Engineers managing agency.
Chief Financial Officer Rob Levin said that in addition to the board-approved budget of $700,000, an extra $50,000 for a new scoreboard and related structural and electrical work is on hold pending funding.
The baseball community at Harvard-Westlake has rallied to support the cause, Barzdukas said. Levin agreed that a significant amount of money has been raised to help fund the project.
“Fundraising results have been heartening, especially in light of the economic environment,” Levin said. “Gifts and pledges to date total about $575,000 and confidence is high that the remaining $175,000 will be raised prior to the fieldâs opening next spring. We are all very excited about this project, as it will give Harvard-Westlake baseball a facility whose quality matches that of its players coaches and program.”
LaCour and the baseball team said that they are enthusiastic about the upcoming changes in their home field.
“We couldnât be more excited about the renovation of Franklin Field and look forward to February when we can begin using the new field,” LaCour said.
“Franklin Field will be a facility that is on par with every other Harvard-Westlake facility,” Barzdukas said. “We are committed to giving our students every opportunity and necessary resource to succeed and Franklin Field will soon be added to that list.”
The baseball team will practice in another venue until the construction is slated to end this spring by their seasonâs start.