When the East Tennessee State University baseball team begins the 2012 season, it will be in a new home.
The ETSU baseball stadium being constructed right now at the corner of University Parkway and West State of Franklin Road should be finished in time for the team’s first game scheduled for Feb. 17 against Eastern Kentucky.
“The dugouts have been formed and the walls and roofs have been poured, and those are curing right now,” said ETSU Athletic Director Dave Mullins.
Once all the pouring is finished in the next couple weeks, the heavy equipment now on the field will be removed and rock and artificial turf can be placed.
Most of the lights were installed this week.
In the next few weeks the posts for the outfield fencing will be placed in position. The building foundation work is finished and the walls have been erected.
The canopy for the 400 spectator seats has been installed, but some more support columns for that must be placed.
“If things continue to move along as quickly as they are right now and we don’t have any significant weather delays ... (the stadium should be finished) in time for the season to begin in mid-February,” Mullins said.
The building may take until late February or early March to complete. This building portion of the stadium will have a ticket booth, restrooms, a merchandise sales area, concessions, a press box, an office, a club room and a lounging area.
The construction of the stadium really began in spring of 2010 with site preparation. Crews working on that aspect of the project ran into a lot of rock that had to be removed.
“There was a significant amount of rock,” Mullins said. “And there’s a lot of work that had to be done in digging footers and foundation and some site work that took longer than we anticipated. But they’re moving along now.”
A scoreboard is being designed and bids for its construction will be accepted soon, Mullins said.
A second phase for the baseball complex called for expanding the baseline seating area, the addition of a team clubhouse, more office space, locker space and indoor batting and pitching cages.
Mullins said fundraising for that phase of construction will begin soon.
Currently, the ETSU baseball team plays at Cardinal Park. Mullins said having a professional stadium will only serve to enhance the team’s reputation and recruiting ability.
“You know we’ve spent the last several years really building our baseball program and taking our baseball program to the next level of success,” Mullins said. “The one piece we feel is going to make a huge contribution to our program is an on-campus facility.”
The first phase of the baseball project has cost about $4.2 million. General Shale Brick provided an in-kind gift of all the brick needed for the stadium. Additionally, the preparation of the site was done for free and was worth about $500,000.