Vanderbilt near $10M raised for baseball facility – The Tennessean
More than 80 donors have pledged âreal closeâ to $10 million to pay for the first phase of Vanderbilt baseballâs new facility, according to athletic director David Williams.
Groundbreaking for the facility has been moved up to as early as February 2016 at the start of Vanderbiltâs season, rather than the previous plan of beginning construction at the end of the season. Construction will not interfere with home games at Hawkins Field.
âWe will actually go into the ground in February. We will finish phase one in time to start the 2017 baseball season,â Williams said. âAnd at the end of that (2017) season, weâll go into the ground for phase two, or we could technicallyÂ do it in the season. Then depending on when we can start (phase two), the goal is to have that completed by the beginning of the 2018 season.â
In September, Vanderbilt announced plans for the state-of-the-art facility, which will cost $12 million total and be built just beyond the left-field wall and stretch into Memorial Gym. The Vanderbilt Board of Trust approved the $10 million phase one of the facility, and Williams said he has âno doubt that (phase two) will be approvedâ once funds are raised to complete phase one.
âWe are raising as much money as we can,â Williams said. âAs we bust through the (phase one) amount, it will obviously go to the second phase.â
Williams said he accompanied baseball coach Tim Corbin and Executive Director of Athletics Development Mark Carter to New York last week to meet with projected donors.
âWe have about 80-something donors so far,â Williams said. âHereâs the interesting thing: One of them gave $100, so we have donors from a hundred to a million dollars. So a lot of people want to be a part of it.â
The new facility will include indoor batting cages, a team classroom, cardio room, expanded weight room, recruiting area, professional playersâ locker room and lounge, media room and coachesâ offices overlooking left field.
The old baseball building will then house a hospitality area for all sports, an umpires room, a laundry facility and an enlarged locker room for current players.
Williams said a large portion of donors are former Vanderbilt baseball players.
âThe amount of baseball players that have donated is much greater than youâll see anywhere else in America, as far as a percentage of the kids that have played for Tim and wanted to be a part of it,â Williams said. âSome of them can give a little bit more than others, and they have wanted to be a part of the project.â
Under Corbin, Vanderbilt won the 2014 national championship and finished runner-up at the College World Series in June.
Vanderbilt was recently rated the No. 1 baseball program in the nation by D1Baseball, and the Commodores landed the top recruiting class in the country, according to Baseball America. In June, nine Vanderbilt players were drafted, including three in the first round.
âThis project generated itself from the success the program has had, and the ability to bring all these (former players) back here,â Williams said. âItâs easy to walk over there in December or January and see a David Price or a Sonny Gray or a Pedro Alvarez over there. People would pay to be in the room with all of them, and today they are just like they were when they were kids here.â
Reach Adam Sparks at 615-259-8010 and on Twitter @AdamSparks.