11/12/2007 – Daily News Record
Timeline Not Announced Written By Kelly Jasper Details are sparse, but James Madison University has officially announced its plans to demolish and rebuild Memorial Stadium. A new baseball and softball complex will be dedicated to all veterans, JMU President Linwood Rose told a crowd of a few hundred on Sunday. The ballpark, home of the Valley Baseball League’s Harrisonburg Turks, was the site of a Veterans Day ceremony with school, city and state officials. JMU plans on preserving the "Memorial Stadium" name, given in 1949 where the site was dedicated in honor of 139 World War II vets. "We will not allow their blood to shed in vain. We must always pay tribute to those who have made our nation great, strong and, most importantly, free," said Rose, who sat on a stage between home plate and the pitcher’s mound alongside several veterans, Mayor Rodney Eagle and U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke. A timeline wasn’t included in Sunday’s announcement, which came at the conclusion of Harrisonburg’s annual Veterans Day Parade. School officials, however, previously have said construction could start in 2008 and the ballpark would open for the 2009 baseball season. The new stadium will be reoriented so batters won’t stare into the sun, said university spokesman Don Egle. The move also puts the bleachers closer to facilities inside Memorial Hall, the former Harrisonburg High School. The redesigned ballpark also will include new lighting – which JMU’s Long Field lacks – and more setting, although official numbers were not released Sunday. "The architectural process has begin," said Egle, adding that sketches of the site aren’t yet available either. "We’ve got a number of details to work out but we’re excited for the opportunity." The state already has approved $5 million out of JMU’s own funding for the project. The university bought the property in June 2006 and, this summer, selected Clough Harbour and Associates LLP to design the new stadium. The company, based in Albany, N.Y., with an office in richmond, also designed JMU’s track, field hockey and lacrosse facility in 2001.