New Rome Braves General Manager David Cross is hoping that a vaccine for COVID-19 can be brought online in record time — because he doesn’t even want to think about another season without minor league baseball.
Cross hosted members of the Rome and Seven Hills Rotary clubs Thursday for a behind the scenes virtual tour of improvements that have been made to State Mutual Stadium.
Cross — who came to Rome from Danville, Virginia, during the off-season — walked the civic leaders through the clubhouses. He showed off new carpet and a new paint job in the Braves clubhouse along with renovations to the visitors clubhouse area.
One of the big improvements on the home team’s side of the stadium is a new video room.
“Video has become a big part of baseball,” Cross said. “We actually have somebody that will sit in here the entire game and they will chart every pitch, freeze frame, and block it into an individual file.”
The coaches will then come back and review the film to show players what they can do to improve.
Major improvements are also in the works for the players’ nutrition area. Cross said improving player nutrition is a major emphasis.
“When their body is the machine, you can’t be feeding it fast food all the time,” Cross said.
A new kitchen is being added and plans call for hiring a chef to cater to both the home and visiting teams.
A bigger video board is something fans will notice when they return, if they return next year. The new video board, at 48 feet wide and 26 feet tall, is roughly four times the size of the old board.
Cross did not mention it specifically Thursday, but the lighting was completely changed out over the winter with LED units that provider brighter and more cost-effective lighting to the ballpark.
The Braves also nearly doubled the size of their retail store, which is open to a limited number of shoppers at a time. A completely new public address system was also an off season priority.
“It’ll be a lot better sound quality and a lot better coverage,” Cross said.
Looking to the future, Cross said the organization is talking about covering and enclosing the terrace area for the 2021 season.
He said State Mutual Stadium is still among the top tier of stadiums in the South Atlantic League but the Braves are continually looking for ways to improve the facility.