On Monday, Rutgers Athletics and Middlesex County announced they are in agreement on a “letter of intent” to partner on the development of a home field for the baseball program. The state of the art facility is being built in Edison, New Jersey. The facility will be designed as a multipurpose venue so that concerts, events and other sports can be held there as well.
Officials indicated at Monday’s press conference that Rutgers baseball would begin playing at the site during the 2026 season. The Scarlet Knights will still have home games at Bainton Field on campus as well.
“Our deep relationship with Rutgers University continues to grow and strengthen with this new partnership with Rutgers Athletics,” said Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios. “The County’s strong fiscal position, coupled with the opportunity of significant State and Federal investment in the CIO Strategic Investment Plan, gives us the advantage to seize crucial opportunities like this for the benefit of our residents and partners like Rutgers University. This is just the beginning of many more transformative and innovative changes at Middlesex College and in our County.”
“We are delighted to partner with Middlesex County to bring Big Ten baseball to this fantastic new facility,” said Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs. “Steve Owens and his staff have done a tremendous job developing the players in our baseball program both on and off the field. This new chapter with Middlesex County will only help Coach Owens and his team continue their pursuit of Big Ten championships and more. We will continue to explore other ways we can partner with the County, but this is a great first step. I want to thank everyone at the county, state and university level who made this opportunity possible.”
The true measure of this deal is in the details.
Middlesex County is building amenities specifically to cater for Rutgers baseball at the multipurpose venue. Aside from brand new facilities that includes air conditioned tunnels for pitchers and hitters, the stadium will be equipped with modern technologies to allow for Rutgers to have games air and stream both nationally and regionally. The seating is also going to be great for fans and head coach Steve Owens hopes it will help create a home field advantage as well.
All of these things are good. However, playing home games off campus is less than ideal.
That being said, Hobbs made the right deal. Rutgers is investing $0 dollars towards this project.
From a recruiting perspective, having a brand new stadium to pitch to prospects is a fancy feather to have in head coach Steve Owens’ cap. At the same time, Rutgers will invest money into improvements at Bainton Field, where the program will continue play homes games there as well.
Hobbs has a big task ahead of him still in completing the facilities master plan. He said on Monday that the master plan would be announced later this fall. The plan will include the promised football practice facility, renovations to Jersey Mike’s Arena, upgrades for baseball and softball, as well as likely other smaller projects.
On choosing to partner with Middlesex County, Hobbs can save millions of dollars by not having to completely overhaul Bainton Field. There is still money to be raised for the football proactive facility and the RAC. In addition, Rutgers needs more NIL money from donors as well.
Hobbs must have determined that between the two needs with facilities and NIL, a game plan was necessary in figuring it all out. RU can sell recruits on a new stadium and attempt to draw more fans in playing in Edison.
The Rutgers athletic director mentioned other possibilities could ultimately develop with other programs like lacrosse and soccer. It is going to become a multipurpose venue This long term strategic thinking is a pragmatic approach to bridging the gap in facilities with so many sports at RU in need.
Playing home games approximately 15-30 minutes from campus is not ideal. However, Hobbs was able to provide security and stability for multiple programs in creating this partnership. How this deal develops remains to be seen, but Hobbs made a solid investment in several Olympic sports programs without spending a dime. That’s a win for the Rutgers AD.
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