NASHVILLE — Vanderbilt will build anew$12 million baseball facility beginning after the 2016 season, pending approval by the university’s Board of Trust.
The new three-story building will connect Memorial Gym to Hawkins Field and stand just beyond the left-field wall. Coach Tim Corbin said one side of the three-story complex will serve as a new replacement to the current 35-foottall green monster wall in the left-field corner.
“The building itself will make up the monster, so we won’t lose the elevated wall and we won’t lose the distances,” Corbin said. “There will just be something behind that wall.”
Athletics director David Williams said the process of planning a new facility began after last year’s run to Vanderbilt’s first national championship, when he asked Corbin what upgrades he preferred for his program.
The Commodores returned last week from their second straight appearance in the College World Series national championship, losing to Virginia in three games. Corbin said it’s time to upgrade from the current two-story complex, which was built in 2006 along the third-base line.
“We had a home that we built, and we’ve basically outgrown it,” Corbin said.
The new facility will include an expansive weight room, reconstructed batting cages, team classroom, recruiting room, professional players’ locker room and lounge, media room and coaches’ offices overlooking left field.
“Imagine the concept of the monster (left-field wall), but instead it will be (Corbin’s) office at the top looking over the field,” Williams said. “The architects have done a real good job of designing it. They have been meeting about every two weeks, and Tim has been at every meeting. Tim has become sort of a little architect. It’s really nice,and it’s very functional.”
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.
“There is a timeline. We started (planning) last year, and we decided that the cost of this project was about $12 million,” Williams said. “We’ve got our people working on it. We have a two-phase piece.”
Phase one will cost about $10 million and take about 10 months of construction, beginning as early as the end of the 2016 season and finishing around the start of the 2017 season. That first phase will build the new facility and move team operations out of the old building.
Phase two will cost an additional $2 million and include amenities to the new facility and reconfiguration of the old building.
Williams said “a group of very loyal supporters” has already committed a “good portion” of private funds to build the new facility. “ Now we just have to raise the rest of the money and get it approved by the board,” he added. “Going to the board is our next step now that we have enough commitments.”
Williams said Corbin wanted the new facility to attract elite recruits, better serve current players and accommodate professional players returning to campus.
“In December and January, we have 20 to 25 pro kids here,” Williams said. “Part of this is taking care of them.”
Corbin has long emphasized the program’s connection to past players. Seven former Vanderbilt players are currently with Major League teams — including 2012 Cy Young Award winner David Price (Tigers), 2013 All-Star Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) and Oakland A’s ace Sonny Gray — and 27 more are in the minor leagues. Nine Commodores were recently drafted, including three in the first round.
By Adam Sparks
Courtesy of: Knoxville News Sentinel