JMU’s New Baseball Complex

In yesterday’s Daily News Record, Jeff Mellot reported that Virginia’s General Assembly has “approved funds for demolishing Memorial Stadium and building a new structure in its place.” James Madison University is the current owner of the stadium, and the site is just north of Memorial Hall – the old Harrisonburg High School. However, the measure must be signed by Gov. Tim Kaine before JMU receives the proposed $5 million. The money would pay for a baseball and softball complex, and the new facilities would be used by JMU and the Harrisonburg Turks, a summer league baseball team in the Valley League. I like this proposal for a number of different reasons.

1. Memorial Stadium is Old and Dilapidated: The stadium was built in 1948 with donations from the public, and since JMU has purchased it the facilities have been not maintained – the grass needs to be treated, the concrete structure is cracking, and the entire stadium needs a new paint job. I think that JMU has ignored the stadium for the past couple of years because they knew they would eventually know it down and build something in its place.

2. Long Field / Mauck Is Not Fit for College Baseball: JMU’s current baseball facility, Long Field/Mauck Stadium, does not have any lights and uses both AstroTurf and natural grass for its playing surface. The scenery surrounding the park includes Interstate 81, chain-link fences and a parking lot. JMU officials have been looking at updating the facility for many years, and Coach Spanky McFarland has always wanted to add lights to the stadium to facilitate night games.

3. New Complex Would Attract New Audiences: First of all, the new stadium complex would attract consumers and businesses to South High Street. This is important because the current site borders Harrisonburg’s downtown, and the stadium could help draw more activity to this region.

Secondly, the new complex could serve as a tournament site for NCAA College Baseball World Series or the women’s NCAA softball tournament. The tournament would help bring in tourists and possible television coverage.

4. New Uses for Current Baseball/Softball Facilities – If JMU’s baseball and softball teams moved to the new complex, their old facilities could be used for other purposes. For instance, JMU could build a state-of-the-art basketball arena, new dormitory, zoo, law school, indoor track, etc. Oh wait, I forgot that we cut indoor track to comply with Title IX. Anyways, knowing JMU officials they’ll just use the new space to add another parking garage.

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