For the last two track seasons, San Francisco State has been unable to use the outer lanes of Cox Stadium.
In 2017, tree roots from the non-native eucalyptus had begun to noticeably damage the track surface, getting so bad that the Gators — the No. 5 women’s team in Division II — had hosted precisely one meet over the last two seasons.
The school received an insurance settlement because of the damage, and on June 3, began a $500,000 facelift as part of a long-overdue renovation, coinciding with the installation of protective railing, padding and netting at San Francisco State’s baseball facility, Maloney Stadium.
The entire track facility was due for a facelift, with the track itself — installed in 2001 — having long outlived its operational lifespan of 10 years. Work began early in the week by removing sections of the track, and excising the offending root sections. The coaches’ offices will also receive a remodel. The company installing the new surface, SBAY Construction, did similar jobs at USC and at Oregon — one of the top tracks in the nation.
The track should be done by the end of August, depending on weather. The top layer cannot be applied if there is too much moisture in the air.
Moisture was a particular problem for the San Francisco State baseball team, which had to play 32 of 40 conference games on the road and yet still made its second CCAA Tournament. The new safety additions to Maloney Field had been bandied about before the 2019 season, but heavy early-season rains prevented any work from being done.
A department spokesperson said that there are other improvements being looked at for Maloney Field, but the current project, also funded by the athletic department, has a pricetag of $40,000. Previously, the Gators’ dugouts had been open, and with the velocities of foul balls off of metal bats, and the possibility of players getting injured while pursuing foul balls, it was an unnecessary safty hazzard.
Even in the Major Leagues, where exit velocities are somewhat mitigated by using wooden bats, protective netting is almost universal both for fans (all 30 clubs) and on dugouts, the one notable exception being the Oakland Coliseum. Angels Stadium in Anaheim used to have open dugouts, but after Mo Vaughn stumbled and twisted his ankle on the dugout steps there in 1999.
Cal and Stanford added dugout railings and nets in the mid-2000s.
Maloney was one of the only sets of open dugouts used in competitive baseball in the City. The dugouts at Benedetti Diamond at the University of San Francisco are completely netted. Even the City’s recreational fields — where the San Francisco Section plays its games — have fenced-in dugouts. Fields where the city’s WCAL teams play are also enclosed, including Fairmont Field in Pacifica, where City College also plays its games.