Save The Jungle!

The silent phase for the new baseball stadium is over and the public campaign begins. The architecture renderings are posted on the ECU athletics web site and appear to be a first class facility.

Coach LeClair mentioned that he visited several collegiate stadiums and gathered ideas from these venues. If memory serves me correctly, one of the facilities that he visited was The Bill Davis Stadium at Ohio State University. I personally have visited this stadium and it appears as if the new stadium for our beloved Diamond Bucs will be very similar to the one that is home for the Buckeyes.

East Carolina and the city of Greenville need this facility. ECU needs the stadium for obvious reasons. Increased seating for hosting regionals, conference tournaments and early season tournaments. The city will benefit from all of these. The new stadium will complete the main portion of the facility upgrades at ECU that began in 1994 with the 12 million dollar renovation of Minges Coliseum. Upon completion of the stadium and the Strength and Conditioning Center, East Carolina will have the finest facilities in CUSA and rank very high nationally.

ECU won its 15th straight home game Sunday and has now won 41 of its last 44 played at Harrington Field. Part of this home field advantage is the presence of the Pirate faithful in "The Jungle." The rowdy fans under the "non-native pine trees" that stretch from left field to the Cliff Moore Practice Field have given opposing teams something else to think about over the years. I like to think that The Jungle has helped to win 3 to 4 games a year. The campaign to save the Jungle may seem a lost cause, but The Jungle must not be lost. The new facility needs to incorporate a New Jungle in the right field area. Sell corporate sponsorships if needed. Call it the Acme Jungle Tailgating Area. Name it after the highest donor, but it must be included. If memory serves me correctly, during the Duke game last season, Mick Mixon a long time UNC commentator, joined Jeff Charles for a regional broadcast on Fox Sports South. Mick stated that he had never been to Harrington Field. Mick went on to say that is one of the most beautiful and intimidating settings for College Baseball he had seen. He could not believe that the Jungle would be no more when the new stadium was complete. Many visiting players have the same opinion of Harrington Field. Rumor has it that one visiting outfielder actually asked his coach to switch him from left field to right field after making several errors. The razzing that he endured during the Friday opener was too much to handle and the youngster was switched to right field on Saturday and played there Sunday also.

Abolishing The Jungle is yet another in a long line of recent decisions aimed at eliminating longstanding traditions at ECU. In 1994 Saturday morning pre-football game keg stands were abolished as the administration mandated prohibition on kegs for tailgating. Along with this came the 4-hour prior to game time rule as well. The year 2001 saw another tradition change its look. The 18th annual Purple and Gold Pig Skin Pig Out Party was moved from the spring to the first home game weekend. For years Pirate faithful reunited in the spring to talk about the upcoming football season and to enjoy some great Eastern NC BBQ. Once again the fans, mostly monetary supporters, are left out to dry. Despite the apparent intent by the ECU athletic administration to squash one of the finest traditions in collegiate athletics, The Jungle must survive.

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