The Purple Park
09/29/2009 – Daily News Record
JMU’s Veterans Memorial Complex Nears Completion By Heather Bowser Daily News Record
HARRISONBURG – Over the last few months, a peculiar sight has appeared along South High Street. And it’s purple, really purple.
As drivers head south, past the intersection of Market Street, flashes of the royal color on the right side snag their attention.
It’s obvious now. This is Duke territory and they’ve got the purple to prove it.
James Madison University is nearing completion of what it is now calling Veterans Memorial Park. The $9.7 million complex includes two new stadiums, one for baseball and another for softball, and replaces Veterans Memorial Stadium, which was built in 1949.
“This isn’t just going to be two stadiums at the same place,” said Nick Langridge, JMU’s assistant to the president. “We want this to have the look and the feel of a park.”
One of the most striking new features constructed so far is the giant purple scoreboard and rows and rows of purple bleachers, all with backs, facing the traffic on South High.
JMU officials and baseball coach Joe “Spanky” McFarland recently gave a tour of the new complex, which will be completed in late November.
The original stadium was dedicated in honor of the area’s 139 veterans killed during World War II. For decades, the field was home to the Harrisonburg High School Blue Streaks and the Valley Baseball League’s Harrisonburg Turks.
The baseball section of the new complex will seat 1,200 people and will have synthetic turf. The softball stadium will seat 500 people and have a grass outfield.
The existing softball field on the west side of the property will remain as a practice field.
As soon as the park opens in February, it will be the first time JMU baseball and softball games will be played at night. Games will now start at 6:30 p.m.
The old fields, located in the center of campus, lack stadium lights and the dugouts weren’t big enough to fit the entire team. Those will now be used for club sports and intramural teams.
The new park will be surrounded by a black iron fence similar to the one around Bridgeforth Stadium. Both of the new stadiums will have handicapped-accessible seating and elevators.
Three buildings behind the fields house restrooms, concessions, ticketing and retail space.
Inside Memorial Hall, the Dukes have new locker rooms, team lounges, study areas, coaches’ offices and weight rooms.
“And we’ll have bathrooms in the dugout,” McFarland said.
Contact Heather Bowser :
Reporter News Department firstname.lastname@example.org 540-574-6218