ZooKeepers hope to open renovated McCrary Park on Saturday

Turf is being installed on the infield during Phase 1 of the McCrary Park renovations last week in Asheboro. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

ASHEBORO — It’s a race to the finish line for the Asheboro ZooKeepers baseball team.

Renovations at McCrary Park have been ongoing, with installation of a field turf beginning last week.

The Coastal Plain League season begins this week for the team that plays on the summer college circuit.

This project will come in phases and this first version has been ongoing for months.

Here’s the home bullpen with a new retaining wall at McCrary Park. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

There’s a home opener on the docket for Saturday night against the Wilson Tobs after the team has two road games.

“That’s what we’re shooting for,” co-general manager Dennis Garcia said. “Our toes and fingers have been crossed for weeks.”

Asheboro High School and American Legion teams normally use city-owned McCrary Park, but they were forced to play or practice elsewhere this spring. American Legion games that had been slated to begin since this past weekend were moved to other locations, including Kiwanis Park.

For the ZooKeepers, Wednesday’s non-league against the Fuquay-Varina Twins has been called off, a move made quite some time ago in anticipation of last-minute type of work continuing at the park.

A new seating area is part of the scene along the first-base line with the home dugout being moved 90 feet down the line. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

Much of the renovations so far are geared toward enhancements for players. Head coach and co-general manager Jeremy Knight said these should be perks for the players.

“I really like it when it’s fully turfed,” Knight said. “It’s going to be great for the guys. There’s not to be any surprises as far as ground balls and hops.”

The anticipation of a new season is always an adrenaline rush for the front office and many of the team’s fans and supporters.

With this renovation coming right down to the deadline, that just adds to the entire experience.

“It makes for a hectic, but a really, really fun time,” Garcia said.

Players were set to arrive Sunday and meet Monday, with uniforms assigned and other logistics addressed.

A practice for Wednesday has been moved to Catawba College in Salisbury.

New dugouts with a bathroom will be in place at McCrary Park. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

Asheboro’s team had been named Copperheads since 1999. A rebranding was launched in January, complete with a new nickname to pay tribute to the region’s highest-profile attraction – North Carolina Zoo.

“A lot of teams like to rebrand when they get a new stadium or a major renovation,” Garcia said.

The ballpark upgrades, cosmetic alterations and team name aren’t the only changes involving the team.

Within the ZooKeepers front office, there have been adjustments. Kyle Pugh is in the new position of president. A former player for the team and a son of team owner Steve Pugh, he’ll oversee finances.

By Bob Sutton