From Box to Box: LSU Baseball Looks to Bring Legacy of Success to New Stadium

Ben RelleContributor IFebruary 18, 2009

On Friday, the LSU baseball team will begin their season in an unfamiliar facility with a very familiar name. The New Alex Box Stadium will open its doors Friday night at 7 p.m. as the No. 1-ranked Tigers host Villanova. This new stadium just adds a new chapter to the incredible history LSU baseball has written throughout the years.

Alex Box Stadium holds so many memories for LSU baseball fans. It will be a tough transition, but I don’t think 200 yards can extinguish the mystique that comes with playing baseball at LSU.

LSU’s baseball stadium was first built in 1938 but did not receive its name until 1943. A letterman on the 1942 team named Alex Box was killed in action while fighting in North Africa during World War II. After his death, the LSU Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to name the baseball stadium after Box. His name will remain on the new stadium to symbolize the sacrifice he made for our country.

In the first years of existence, LSU’s baseball facility was used as a spring training home for the New York Giants. In those days, the stadium was just the 2,500-seat grandstand.

The success and tradition of LSU baseball was truly built starting in 1983 with the arrival of Skip Bertman. Coach Bertman brought success to the program and instituted a culture of winning. In 18 seasons, Bertman amassed 870 wins and just 330 losses. He was named National Coach of the Year six times.

Under Bertman’s leadership, the Tigers brought five national championships back to Baton Rouge. Bertman’s teams also participated in the College World Series 11 times.

Bertman also helped ingrain LSU baseball into the hearts and minds of fans here in Louisiana. The year before Bertman’s arrival, LSU only averaged 454 fans per game. Twenty-five years later, over four million people have attended baseball games at the Box.

LSU has led the nation in baseball attendance every year since the 1996 season. This makes Alex Box one of the best atmospheres for collegiate sporting events in the nation.

LSU baseball fans have become famous throughout the nation for making Alex Box Stadium into an incredible home field advantage.

After the 2003 Super Regional, Baylor head coach Steve Smith said, “I want to commend what I truly believe may be the premier crowd in all of college baseball...that is a special crowd out there. I want to say that the way the fans have responded all weekend to just excellence and outstanding play leads me to believe that they truly do appreciate the difficulty of playing this game. I’m glad to have our players play in front of a crowd that I truly believe appreciated their performance.”

This love affair with LSU baseball helped create a loyal fanbase that braves the early season cold and the sweltering heat of the last few weeks to support their Tigers. It also brought into existence groups like the Left Field Lunatics, Bullpen Bullies, Two-Out Rally Section, the K-Lady, and Coon’s Corner.

Hopefully the new stadium will give fans a much more modern venue to support their Tigers in while keeping the same atmosphere and character as the old stadium.

With the evolving world of college baseball, LSU decided to upgrade their facilities to catch up with the first class product they put on the field each year. The New Alex Box Stadium will provide these first class accommodations to the nation’s No. 1 team.

The new facility will provide the baseball team with 6,000 square feet of extra locker room space, brand new batting cages, and new offices to help maintain a standard of excellence. The fans will also be much more comfortable with 700 more seats under the roof, 7,000 extra square feet of restrooms, and 3,000 extra square feet of concessions. The new stadium will also have 17 luxury suites and an enclosed press box.

Other amenities will include a Hall of Fame, Club Lounge, and an arcade.

Another addition will be the state-of-the-art scoreboard located in left field. This scoreboard is equipped with a video replay board as well as inning-by-inning scoring. The one subtraction from the old stadium will be the “Intimidator” board that was located down the right field line displaying all of the Tigers’ national championships.

The old Alex Box has provided a tough act to follow for the Tigers’ new home. LSU’s former venue hosted 18 Regional tournaments, four Super Regional series, and four SEC tournaments. The New Alex Box Stadium has a lot to live up to as far as success goes.

Excitement has reached its peak with the season opener just two days away. Expectations could not be higher for this team. With a preseason No. 1 ranking, an SEC title along with a trip to Omaha are things this team is more than capable of achieving.

Wouldn’t it be nice to break in the new Alex Box with a Regional, Super Regional, and the Tigers’ sixth national championship?