The baseball team will play 11 of its 12 home conference games this season at Campbell’s Field, the home of the Camden Riversharks, in Camden, N.J., athletic communications announced Friday, Nov. 8.
Entering their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference, the Owls will play in the 6,425 seat facility and is located directly past the Benjamin Franklin Bridge – a relatively short drive from Main Campus. Temple will play its non-conference home games at the Ambler Sports Complex, where it has played on Skip Wilson Field for the past 10 seasons.
“When I took the job, one of my goals was to get the program and to get the team away from Ambler and closer to campus,” fourth-year coach Ryan Wheeler said. “I started discussions with Camden myself, and [Athletic Director] Kevin Clark got on board and took the ball from there.”
The problems associated with commuting to Ambler on a daily basis will be alleviated by the move for at least part of the upcoming season.
“Playing at Ambler was a 45 minute ride to get there, but could take up to an hour based on traffic,” junior infielder Nick Lustrino, recently named a captain for the upcoming season, said. “It was almost like you were playing an away game for every home game.”
Campbell’s Field was named “Ballpark of the Year” in 2004 by Baseball America and holds a view of the Philadelphia skyline and Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The facility is owned by Rutgers University and the Camden Riversharks, a minor league team affiliated with the Liberty Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
Entering its first year in The American, a new venue is expected to provide an attendance boost and give the team a venue that ranks with other schools in the conference.
“I think that Temple baseball feels now that they’re right up there to compete with the best of the best,” senior pitcher and captain Matt Hockenberry said. “We don’t have to have the feeling of being looks down to anymore because of having insufficient facilities. Now we’re playing in a minor league stadium and it makes us feel more legitimate.”
Wheeler said Athletic Director Kevin Clark, who was promoted from his interim status last week, has placed an emphasis on the Ambler-based teams. Whether the move to Campbell’s Field is permanent is not yet known.
“One of [Clark’s] main goals is to provide a great experience for our student-athletes and take care of their welfare,” Wheeler said. “So he is working extremely hard with the rest of the administration to find solutions to help baseball and all of the sports at Ambler so they can feel like they’re more a part of the university.”
The full schedule for the 2014 season will be released later this week. The first game at Campbell’s Field will be held on April 4 against Cincinnati. In past seasons, the Owls were forced to play all of their home games during the afternoon because the Ambler venue lacks lights. At Campbell’s, there are two night games scheduled, including one against South Florida.
Wheeler said he believes the move to such a premiere facility will help the team going forward in more ways than one.
“I think it makes a statement to the people, alumni, friends of the program that our university is committed and very serious about the baseball program to give us this opportunity and it certainly is going to help us with recruiting to show kids this is where they’re going to be playing,” Wheeler said. “It’s got tremendous benefits all the way through the program.”
Avery Maehrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AveryMaehrer.