- Opened - February 27, 2009
- Capacity - 4,000
- Record attendance - 5,097 (July 4, 2017)
- Left – 335 ft
- Center – 400 ft
- Right – 325 ft
- Surface - FieldTurf
Getting banished to the far-flung reaches of the Pacific Northwest, LSU will at least be traveling to one of the most modern facilities in college baseball, Oregon’s PK Park. Though not a direct Nike creation like other modern Oregon facilities, it did begin construction after Nike founder Phil Knight’s famous $100 Million donation to the school’s athletic fund in 2007 that was the genesis for the modern Ducks athletic program we see today, with heavy influence from the swoosh brand seen everywhere. I was surprised to find the “PK” in PK Park stands not for Phil Knight, but Pat Kilkenny, the former UO AD who donated a hefty amount of his own money to get the park built and restart the baseball program that had been dead as a varsity sport since 1981.
The surface is fully artificial FieldTurf, with the only real thing being the dirt on the pitcher’s mound. I normally decry this blasphemous carpet being used in baseball, but given the PNW’s penchant for torrential rain and the heavy use by the park’s other tenant, the High-A-West SF Giants affiliate Eugene Emeralds, I can excuse the decision. Lest you think LSU will be unprepared for this, the Tigers spent Monday practicing behind Alex Box’s left field wall at the U-High baseball stadium, which is also a FieldTurf surface.
Here's a better look at #LSU's infield drills at U-High's baseball field (turf). PK Park is FieldTurf. Freshman Will Safford getting work in at 2B tonight. Safford played SS in high school. @LSUbaseball will face Gonzaga Friday at 9pm CST. pic.twitter.com/gM4DsGhNUq— Brooke Kirchhofer (@brookechesney) June 1, 2021
The field dimensions, just a shade larger than LSU’s Alex Box, are paired with some odd kinks in the shape of the outfield wall, notably the cutout in the left field corner for the visitor’s bullpen. These oddities are nothing new to baseball, especially in college where stadiums are sometimes crammed into whatever available space could be found. But it’s a deliberate oddity at PK Park, which was built on a wide open football overflow parking lot with plenty of room.
The home team is in the 1B side dugout and gets the advantage of a covered bullpen attached to the Ducks practice facility and batting cages behind the right field wall, while the visiting team dugout is just a fenced off box in left field, open to the elements. The NCAA’s weird ways of shuffling home and away teams in the regionals will mostly mitigate this advantage over the weekend.
The Oregon website has a neat virtual tour of the facility, with some picturesque views of the surrounding hills.
The park also has an odd southeast-by-east (home plate to center field) alignment, which should mean the setting sun is blazing into the left fielder’s eyes (though, hopefully, most of LSU’s games will take place long after dark). The field is on the grounds of Oregon’s massive off-campus athletics complex that also contains their football and main athletics training facility, the massive Autzen Stadium, and their soccer stadium.
Based on available statistics I could find, the park seems relatively neutral to the home run ball. Because of COVID, the Ducks played a nearly even split in 2021 of 28 home games and 23 away, actually hitting 7 more home runs on the road. But like Vandy and Tulane, the infield, including the fake dirt-grass basepaths, will play extremely fast. For a team like Gonzaga that plays the station-to-station west coast style, that’s a big advantage.
It should be noted that baseball wont be the only LSU team in Eugene this weekend. On the other side of the Willamette River, 34 LSU track and field athletes from the #1 ranked Men’s and Women’s teams will be competing in the NCAA Individual T&F Championships at the legendary Hayward Field.