Construction begins on softball stadium, set to finish in December
With 16 experienced players returning from last season’s roster, the MSU softball team has a chance to make some noise in the Big Ten next spring.
Add in the fact they’ll be playing in a newly renovated, $2 million stadium, and the Spartans have a lot to look forward to in 2011.
“We are all very thrilled,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said about her team and its future home. “It’s really cool, and we can’t wait to play in there.”
Construction on the stadium, located at Old College Field, began July 12, the same day the softball team kicked off one of its summer youth camps. As construction has gone on throughout the Spartans’ camps, Joseph said she can see the excitement growing among her players.
“Each day we’d go down and see more done, and every single day, every single player said how excited they are to play in it,” Joseph said. “So I think that when we all get back in the fall, they’re just not even going to believe how far along it is.”
The renovations to the softball stadium, which include 120 chair back seats, a new press box, backstops and handicap-accessible seating, are expected to be finished in December, making it ready for next season.
Greg Ianni, the senior associate athletics director for Facilities and Sports Management, said the work being done on the stadium is part of the “New Life for College Field” project, which started in 2006. The project already has included adding a new indoor hitting facility and renovations to McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field and the soccer team’s DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field.
Although softball and baseball are not the biggest programs on campus, Ianni said it is important to show those teams that the athletics department is behind them completely.
“It displays a commitment on the department and the university’s part for these programs,” Ianni said of the renovations. “It creates an environment where those programs can be successful based on the fact they have competitive facilities.”
Now that construction has started on the softball field, Joseph said her players can see evidence of that commitment.
“I think the players can’t help but get that message now that, ‘Hey, this is a big deal, this is important,’” Joseph said. “I think it just makes everybody walk a little taller and be a little bit more proud.”
After the baseball team opened its new stadium in 2009, Joseph said she saw the positive attitude in the baseball team that she expects from her team when construction is complete.
MSU baseball head coach Jake Boss Jr. agreed with Joseph, saying his players couldn’t wait to practice and play in new facilities. But he also said Joseph can expect even more of a sense of pride out of softball alumnae.
“It might sound a little corny, but I can count 10-20 guys that have come back with tears rolling down their face as they come out and look at the field,” Boss said. “They’re just so proud of what it looks like out there.”
Joseph said she has known of the athletics department’s long-term plan for Old College Field for some time, and was waiting for the softball team’s turn to receive an upgrade. Now, as Joseph and the Spartans prepare for next season, she said the new digs are coming at the right time to provide her team with the boost it needs for a successful 2011 campaign.
“I don’t think you can understate how critically important (the new stadium) is,” Joseph said. “For me personally, it’s a real shot in the arm. We’ve been up and we’ve been down recently, and I think this really is perfect timing.”