Vanderbilt’s new baseball building rivals some Division I football facilities – The Tennessean
Vanderbilt baseball has completed its new training facilities.
Autumn Allison/USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee
Vanderbilt’s new $12 million athletic facility would make some Division I football programs jealous, and it’s not even a football facility.
“It wasn’t meant to be the most luxurious building,” said Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin, whose new office is fully glassed behind the left-field mesh wall and offers the perfect view of Hawkins Field.
“The idea was just to create a home for our kids.”
Corbin is sincere. The Commodores’ new three-story, 30,000-square-foot baseball training facility has practical purposes for one of the elite programs in college baseball. There are expansive batting cages, a kitchenette stocked with nutritional supplements, a medical training room, a cardio room and an enlarged weight room.
Pro players paid for posh space
But there are amenities unique to Vanderbilt in the new facility, which opened over the summer. It houses a locker room only for former Vanderbilt players and current professional players. In the offseason, it’s common to see as many as 25 major league and minor league players in a given day stroll through the building.
“(The pro players) give me a hard time about it,” Corbin said, acknowledging the size and relative luxury of the facility. “I’m not deserving of a space like this. It’s beautiful. It’s beyond my comprehension.
“They look at it and think, ‘Boy, this is nice.’ But they built it.”
Nearly 250 donors, mostly former Vanderbilt players, contributed to the project. It was capped by a $2.5 million donation from Red Sox pitcher David Price — the 2012 Cy Young Award winner, five-time American League All-Star, 2007 National College Player of the Year and No. 1 overall draft pick, and a Vanderbilt Hall of Famer.
Price’s nameplate soon will be installed atop his locker in the pro locker room. It will go alongside other current and recent major leaguers such as Dansby Swanson (Braves), Tony Kemp (Astros), Pedro Alvarez (Orioles), Carson Fulmer (White Sox), Walker Buehler (Dodgers) and others.
Wall graphics, large Star-V logos and framed major league uniforms are waiting to be added to finish up the aesthetics of the building, which sits between Memorial Gym and the Hawkins Field wall.
Facility ‘pretty remarkable’ to recruits
Current players say wide-eyed recruits gladly linger in the facility. They see that the team classroom has personalized seats, the batting cages have an overhead viewing deck and the kitchen area can be accessed through a door in the left-field wall.
“(Recruits) seem pretty excited when they see it,” shortstop Connor Kaiser said. “They see this is a good space to grow. It’s pretty remarkable.”
Players are just now breaking in the new facility as they prepare to play their intrasquad Black & Gold Series, which begins at 2 p.m. Thursday and offers free admission to the public.
“When you walk around here, it’s like no other (college baseball facility),” first baseman Julian Infante said. “This facility is superior to anyone.”
Why players still use old locker room in fall
It’s difficult to rank facilities. But Vanderbilt’s new building undoubtedly sits at or near the top in college baseball.
Corbin said he never meant to enter an arms race in his sport. He merely wanted the program to grow along with on-field success. Vanderbilt has seven Super Regional appearances, three College World Series trips and the 2014 national championship since Corbin’s arrival in 2003.
When the Commodores reached that first Super Regional in 2004, Corbin said, “We were the have-nots.” Back then, the team used the football visitors’ locker room in Vanderbilt Stadium as its makeshift facility, and there was only one batting cage to share. They upgraded to a new locker room in 2006.
Over the years, Corbin still has required players to dress in that old visitors’ locker room during fall practice to gain perspective before they earn their regular quarters.
“I wouldn’t have known how to envision (this new facility),” Corbin said, breaking in the new press conference room across the hall from his third-story office. “Looking back on it, it’s been great. I don’t take it for granted, that’s for sure. And neither do our players.”
Reach Adam Sparks at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @AdamSparks.
BLACK & GOLD SERIES
What: Vanderbilt intrasquad baseball games (six or seven innings each); free admission and open to public
When: Thursday (2 p.m.), Friday (1 p.m.), Saturday (1 p.m.), Oct. 18 (6 p.m., if necessary)
Where: Hawkins Field
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