Vanderbilt unveils plans to improve baseball facilities – The Tennessean
Improvements to Vanderbilt’s baseball facilities could begin in the summer of 2016, according to athletics director David Williams.
The school’s board of trust has approved $10 million in upgrades to a facility in Memorial Gym and next to Hawkins Field.
“We have placed the emphasis of this project where it should be – on the student-athletes,” Williams said. “The new additions are designed to benefit them the most.”
The improved facility, Williams said, will help coach Tim Corbin and his staff continue to recruit prospects to a program that won the national championship in 2014 and finished runner-up in 2015.
“We recruit elite high school baseball prospects who often are choosing between us and professional baseball,” Williams said. “It is important that our facilities help them develop to their full potential. It is also imperative that we identify young men with strong academic interests because we all know our program develops more than just baseball skills. In addition, we want to have a welcoming and quality home for those former Commodores who are now professionals and return to the campus to train during the offseason or perhaps finish academic requirements.”
Corbin said the project will help Vanderbilt keep up with what other programs are doing.
“These improvements are not frivolous but quite necessary and are centered around the athletes’ mental, emotional and physical development,” Corbin said. “(The facility) will add to the developmental and cultural side of our program. These young men have a small window of time while going through the Vanderbilt experience. We want to make that experience count on many levels.”
The project will expand Memorial Gym to just beyond the left field wall. It calls for the relocation of batting cages to an existing below-ground level of Memorial Gym that will be retrofitted for that purpose.
In addition the ground level and top floor of Memorial Gym will be renovated and expanded to house a classroom, cardio exercise room, expanded weight room and recruiting area, as well as coaches’ and staff offices.
The weight room, which will be nearly twice the size of the one used by the baseball team, will also be used by the women’s and men’s basketball teams.
There will also be a larger professional-style locker room to serve former Commodores players who return to train.
Williams said there is a need to continue raising the funds to bring the project to fruition.
“With board of trust approval and some friends already on board with generous gifts, it might appear that this project is all but completed, but there is work to be done,” he said. “We need to identify others interested in investing in excellence. With a premier program led by the nation’s premier college coach, we are confident that many others will want to be a part of making this a reality.”
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 and on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.