Frank Eck Baseball Stadium
Nickname: The Eck
Purpose: Practice & Competition
Record: 404-131-2 (.754) as of the end of the 2014 season
Square feet: 14,211
Attendance Record: 3,927 vs. West Virginia on April 21, 2007 (17-6)
Most Attended Season: 2006 (2,514 average; 60.334 overall; season high: 3,507 vs. Rutgers on April 21, 2006; 2nd highest attendance overall) – included seven of top eight all-time attending games.
Year Opened: 1994
First Game: March 17, 1994 vs. Tennessee (5-8)
No. All-Time Varsity Games: 3,600
Surface Type: Artificial Surface (FieldTurf)
Cost: $5.7 million
Upon its opening in 1994, the 2,500-seat Frank Eck Stadium became the latest jewel among Notre Dame’s ever-expanding athletic facilities. Located on the southeast corner of campus, Eck Stadium has become a favorite with the Irish baseball team as Notre Dame has posted a 404-131-2 home mark (for a .754 winning percentage) heading into the 2015 campaign.
Plans to build the stadium were announced June 7, 1991, thanks to a generous gift to the University by alumnus Frank Eck and his company, Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc., of Columbus, Ohio. Eck was the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer. He graduated in 1944 with a degree in chemical engineering and later endowed a collection in that field at Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.
Eck’s contributions to Notre Dame have totaled more than $35 million. The most recent, a $21 million gift in 2005, underwrote the current construction of the Eck Hall of Law, which includes a second building for the Notre Dame Law School and a multipurpose facility in a neo-Gothic archway that will link the new structure to the existing building. The gift was the fifth largest in Notre Dame’s history, the largest ever to the Law School, and one of the largest in the history of American legal education.
Eck’s previous benefactions to Notre Dame endowed a library collection in chemical engineering, underwrote construction of the Eck Tennis Pavilion in 1987 and the Eck Center, which includes the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, visitors’ center and Alumni Association headquarters, in 1999. He also underwrote a key addition to the baseball stadium in 2000, when an adjoining 9,000-square-foot indoor hitting and pitching facility opened to provide the Notre Dame baseball team with a valuable year-round practice area.
Eck Stadium includes spacious home and visitor locker-room areas, meeting rooms and coaching facilities for each team. The stadium also houses a press box overlooking home plate and a 2,500-seat grandstand with space to add more seating in the future. The stadium is illuminated by a state-of-the-art lighting system, allowing for night play.
Several stadium renovations and additions have been completed since the end of the 2010 season, with more plans in the works for the coming years. Most notably, the Coach Pat Murphy Locker Room, which was made possible through the generous gift of Daniel Murphy, David Murphy, Bert Bondi (’67), Craig Counsell (’92) and John Counsell (’64), as well as other generous supporters of Notre Dame baseball.
The locker space was completely overhauled with the installation of 36 brand new, 30-inch wood lockers including four specially designed corner lockers for the catchers. Lastly, new flat screen, high definition televisions and state-of-the-art RightView Pro technology was installed. Equipped with natural grass for the stadium’s first 20 seasons, the playing surface received an upgrade before the 2014 season as the artificial surface FieldTurf was laid down at the Eck. The state-of-the-art surface covers the entire field, including the pitching mound, and saw the Irish go 5-1 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes Pittsburgh and Clemson to end the 2014 season after the team played at different stadiums around the region for the first 17 home games of the year as the surface was completed.
A new era at Frank Eck Stadium began in January of 2000, as a 9,000-square foot indoor hitting and pitching facility was completed in time for preseason workouts.
The facility, which got a major facelift in 2012, is located adjacent to the left field line. It includes wall-to-wall synthetic turf floor; four full and two half batting cages on a track system which allows for retraction; permanent pitching mounds within the tunnels; and an “Iron Mike” pitching machine, with automatic ball feeder and remote control. The newest addition to the facility, thanks to the Joseph T. Mendelson Endowment, is a video system called HitTrax, which records and analyzes each player in the batting cages and provides instant statistical feedback to the coaches and players on how to improve their swings. The data that is captured includes pitch velocity, pitch movement and location, ball exit speed and launch angles. The gaming module can put players in competition with one another in a virtual game played in a big league park.
The 120′ x 80′ facility includes men’s and women’s restrooms and a classroom for video analysis. The building is outfitted with complete central air conditioning and heating, plus a lighting setup that matches Major League standards. A final addition was six cardiovascular exercise machines-including two stair masters, three stationary bicycles and a treadmill, which allow maximum conditioning opportunities. The Irish combine use of the new indoor facility (for pitching, hitting and catching) with the existing Loftus Center (used primarily for defensive fundamentals and base running).
Eck Stadium boasts a spacious press box that is located directly behind home plate. The press box can be outfitted to comfortably seat 25 staff and media members and provides a panoramic view of Eck Stadium, in addition to the outlying athletics facilities that feature practice sessions and games involving the Irish football, soccer and lacrosse teams. Other amenities within the press box include a restroom and storage area, plus a 42-inch flat screen TV with HD/DVR capabilities, series of video monitors that provide real-time game stats and updated season stats for each player as the game progresses. One other addition beginning with the 2000 season was an enclosed, near-soundproof booth within the press box that is used for TV and radio broadcasts.
At the 1995 Notre Dame alumni game, the University officially named Eck Stadium’s playing surface Jake Kline Field, in honor of the program’s winningest coach. Kline won 558 games in his 42-year career (1934-75).
The 2006 season featured a record-setting, season-long turnout at Jake Kline Field at Frank Eck Stadium – with an average of 2,514 fans per game including seven of the eight largest crowds in the stadium’s history. A sampling of the teams from the May 7, 2006, edition of Baseball America’s top-25 poll showed that Notre Dame’s record-setting home attendance average ranked 11th-highest among those elite top-25 teams.