JMU ‘Infusing’ Ballpark

06/17/2008 – Daily News Record

Price Almost Doubles As Madison Adds To Its Original Plan Written By Mike Barber Daily News Record An unexpected sewer line, added amenities and decision to install more artifical turf have pushed the new Memorial Stadium baseball/softball complex’s price-tag to $9.5 million. The money is coming from JMU reserves and reevenue bonds. Harrisonburg – If you build it, it will cost you double. James Madison now expects to spend about $9.5 million – $4.5 million more than originally planned – on its new softball/softball complex. "It was kind of an estimate before we ever hired the architect," JMU vice president Charlie King said Monday of the original $5 million figure. "As we got further into the design of the project, it was obvious we needed to infuse more dollars into the project." JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne said Monday that major construction will still begin this summer after the Valley League’s Harrisonburg Turks complete their season at Memorial Stadium, the site of the new facility. Bourne said the new ballpark, which will also be called Memorial Stadium is scheduled to be ready for the Dukes in January 2010. King said three factors bumped up the price tag. * First, JMU coach Spanky McFarland requested that Field Turf be installed on both the infield and outfield. Long Field, the Duke’s current home, has it only on the infield. * Second, Madison discovered that a sewer line below the stadium site needed to be relocated. * and third, King said JMU decided to add several small "general niceties" to the designs, including press-box upgrades and a plaza in from of the South High Street complex. James Madison had already added an additional $2 million to the project in April, but the latest figure of $9.5 million is almost double the original amount. JMU bought a 29-acre tract that included the former Harrisonburg High School – including Memorial Stadium – from the city for almost $17 milion in July 2006. As for the artificial turf, McFarland said that with both JMU and the Turks playing on the same surface, there would not be enough warm months free to work on a grass field, making the Field Turf a necessity. "As it gets torn out with play, it won’t be able to repair itself," McFarland said Monday. "There’s no couple-month period to work on it. If you’re going to go with two teams, you needed the turf." Madison’s current ballpark has FieldTurf, and Bourne said the new stadium will use the same brand of artifical surface. The Dukes apparently won’t miss natural grass. "We love it," McFarland said of FieldTurf. "It’s maintenance free. Rain doesn’t bother us. It’s great." Last summer, JMU hired Clough Harbour and Associates LLP to design the new Memorial Stadium. The company, based in Albany, NY, has an office in Richmond. It also designed JMU’s track, field hockey and lacrosse facilities in 2001. McFarland said he met with Bourne and the architects in March to go over the initial plans. At that point, he brought his preference for FieldTurf in the outfield. McFarland said they also discussed keeping the baseball and softball fields separate enough to avoid foul balls fromlanding in the other ballpark, while still keeping them close enough to share amenities such as restrooms and concession stands. King said the project is being paid for out of the university’s reserve funds in the athletic department and through revenue bonds. Madison’s baseball team went 39-19 this spring, winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament and receiving a bid to the NCAA regionals. The softball team went 32-22 and lost to Hofstra in the CAA title game. Also Monday, Bourne repeated that he believes JMU may still find a major donor for the football stadium renovation project. "I think there are quite a few out there that are interested in naming opportunities," Bourne said. "We’ve had great visits so far." Bourne declined to release any specifices of the current fundraising effort.