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Michael Baumann | | February 18, 2015

Manhattan leaves unique field behind

  Manhattan will no longer play its home games at Van Cortlandt Park (pictured).

You don’t appreciate how big a baseball diamond is until you need one.

Fair territory of a baseball field with an outfield fence that remains a constant 330 feet from home plate, including in center field, has an area of 342,119 square feet, or slightly less than eight acres. That area grows when you add foul territory (including batter’s boxes), dugouts, bleachers, concession stands, bathrooms and clubhouses. We grew up playing Babe Ruth and high school ball on fields that size, and it really doesn’t seem like they take up that much land—certainly a relatively successful Division I baseball team could find such a parcel close to campus.

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Manhattan College’s campus, which is home to more than 3,000 students, itself sits on only 22 acres and is wedged between Broadway on the east and developed land that runs all the way to the Hudson River on the west. Manhattan could buy a 1.16-acre vacant lot six miles south, zoned industrial, which is listed at $12 million, or roughly one-third the total cost of LSU’s Alex Box Stadium, and still need six more like it to have enough room for fair territory in the smallest stadium in Division I. Even if enough land for a stadium could be found in one place at that rate, the school would exhaust its endowment at least twice over paying for it before they laid a single brick.

Said Manhattan’s fourth-year head coach Jim Duffy: “If someone came to me and said there was an opportunity to build a college ballpark here, on campus or in the general vicinity of campus, but we need this amount of money, I’d be the first one in line saying ‘I’m here. I’ll raise that number.’ ”

“That number” would easily stretch into the multiple hundreds of millions of dollars, which is why, instead of trying to raise such a sum, Manhattan College has sought out other options.

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