NEW BASEBALL/SOFTBALL COMPLEX
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The Coastal Carolina University baseball and softball programs have received approval in January 2012 from the State of South Carolina, including finalized architectural renderings for a $10.2 million renovation that will put both programs' facilities among the nation's upper echelon. In the fall of 2012, the project began with the razing of the area surrounding Vrooman Field and the Coastal Carolina Softball Field, including Charles Watson Stadium.
The close proximity of the baseball and softball stadiums, combined with the $1.2 million Boni Belle Practice/Hitting Facility that was completed in the spring of 2011, will give Coastal Carolina perhaps the best overall baseball-softball combined facilities in the nation.
"First, I would like to thank Tami Springs-Brooks for providing the lead gift to make this dream a reality," said Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek. "Renovating these stadiums will not only be a boost to our recruiting efforts, but will give us facilities that will easily accommodate the numerous fans and media associated with hosting NCAA postseason events. We look forward to invigorating our fan base with the many amenities these facilities will provide. More importantly, we are thrilled to make these improvements for the benefit of our student-athletes."
During the construction process, both the softball and baseball teams will play their home games at local venues before returning to campus upon completion.
The renovations will keep the current playing surfaces intact while building new grandstands, restrooms, concessions stands, coaches offices, student-athlete locker rooms and lounges, team meeting space, state-of-the-art scoreboards, video instruction system, athletic training rooms, laundry facilities, premium fan areas and media areas. In addition to providing all the amenities of the nation's best venues, the baseball and softball renovations will make Coastal Carolina fully compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.
"With our baseball program playing in an NCAA Regional in 11 of the last 12 years , Coastal has reached the point where hosting a Regional or Super Regional is very realistic," Yurachek said. "We were able to host a regional in 2008, but playing in Watson Stadium with its limitations for such a big event was not ideal. In 2010, we decided to move the Regional and Super Regional to Myrtle Beach's minor league stadium, which was an excellent alternative but we did not have the benefit of a true home-field advantage. Not only that, but being able to showcase our entire campus for those large events will be a tremendous benefit to Chanticleer Athletics, the University and the entire region."
The 33,000-square-foot baseball project expands the 850-seat Watson Stadium to include 2,500 permanent seats, with the potential to accommodate between 5,000-6,000 for events like an NCAA postseason tournament. The current configuration will accommodate the extra 3,000-plus fans as a result of grass berms down the right and left field lines and a boardwalk around the outfield wall.
"This facility will have some of the best components from the top collegiate and minor league baseball stadiums in addition to having our own unique features," said CCU head baseball coach Gary Gilmore. "To have the indoor facility complete and know that we will be playing in one of the finest stadiums in the country by 2014 will truly make Coastal Carolina one of the premier destinations for a college student-athlete.
"We will now have all the amenities college players are looking for in order to maximize their potential and realize their goal; playing in Omaha. I am very excited to see what this program can achieve, combining our tradition with what we will have in terms of facilities.
"I am humbled by the support the University has given our program and the athletics department overall."
The softball stadium could previously hold 300 fans. The renovation will allow for 500 seats, plus standing room for overflow crowds. Overall, the new softball building will be 9,000 square feet.
"The new home of Chanticleer Softball will be tremendous for our student-athletes and fans," said CCU head softball coach Kelley Green. "We are excited about the unlimited possibilities that lie ahead for our program. Our early-season tournaments have brought in some quality opponents and we hope this facility will attract even better competition.
"Our program has a strong tradition and we look forward to taking it to the next level. This new facility will cater to all the needs of a Chanticleer softball student-athlete in addition to everything else they have at their disposal on this campus.
"It will be great to realistically have the ability to host both an NCAA softball Super Regional while baseball is hosting a regional, putting Coastal Carolina in the center of the softball/baseball world. Coastal Carolina continues to prove it wants to be a national leader both academically and athletically."
In addition to the impact the facilities will have on the baseball and softball programs, the new area between the stadiums will enhance the football gameday experience, offering a great area for fans to enjoy numerous festivities.