49ers Take Possession of Blair, Look to Ensure “Dirtbag” LegacyPublished: April 15, 2010
Having called Blair Field home to its nationally prominent 49er baseball team — commonly referred to as the “Dirtbags” — for the past 17 seasons, CSULB recently took possession of the facility and will soon sign the first of five 11-year leases with the city of Long Beach. It not only relieves the city of the maintenance duties and financial burden, but also gives the 49er athletics department more control. It’s a win-win scenario, according to 49er Athletics Director Vic Cegles.
The opportunity came about when Phil Hester, the city of Long Beach’s Director of Parks and Recreation, approached Cegles to see if his department would have any interest in taking over operation of the facility.
At the time, according to Cegles, athletics was discussing a $3 million facelift for the baseball practice facility on campus.
“Long Beach State is a nationally ranked program, yet we have no locker room and the field on campus is now subpar and decades old,” said Cegles. “For us to stay competitive, we really needed to invest resources into the practice facility here on campus and that’s what our initial plans were.”
In the end, Cegles estimates the operating budget for Blair Field will be approximately $250,000, offset in part by no longer having to pay the $75,000 a year in rental fees along with an additional $15,000 it generally contributed annually to enhance the facility. In addition, he is certain they can generate revenue through concessions, rentals and sponsorships.
Cegles also embraces the area high school teams’ participation at the facility, noting that they are a large part of the great tradition of Blair Field.
“We will continue to accommodate them as we schedule and plan for the future,” he said.
Blair Field, which holds 3,283 individuals, opened in 1958 and underwent renovations in 1992 and again in 1999. It was named for Frank Blair, the sports editor at the Long Beach Press-Telegram from 1921-53.
Cegles said that they did studies on the facility and the conclusion was, he jokes, that “it’s built like a battleship.”
“It’s just a beautiful venue,” he said, noting that opposing teams love to play there. “You’re in a park setting and you get the sense you are near the ocean because that breeze is always coming in. It’s got an old school baseball flavor to it and that’s a real plus. We’re in the process of developing renovation plans for new locker rooms, a practice infield, as well as to enhance the bullpens and the batting tunnels.
“Student-athletes today are smart consumers,” he added, “and for us to recruit successfully against programs like USC, Irvine and Fullerton we need to maintain Blair Field at the highest level. We will seek financial support from alumni and friends to help ensure the future success of Dirtbag baseball.”