By JAMES E. CASTO
For The State Journal
Marshall University Athletic Director Mike Hamrick says MU's new indoor athletic facility now under construction will, when completed, be second to none.
"This facility will be the best in the country," Hamrick said. "There may be some that are comparable, but nothing can beat this."
Going up at a site on 3rd Avenue just east of the Joan C. Edwards Stadium is a massive steel building that will house a 120-yard football field inside a six-lane track for hosting indoor meets. The building will seat 1,000 people. Batting cages will be installed for both baseball and softball, along with portable courts for indoor tennis. Adjoining the building will be a new MU Hall of Fame, an academic center and a sports medicine center.
Target date for completion of the giant indoor practice building is August 2014. It's hoped the Hall of Fame will be finished by then as well, with the academic and sports medicine centers scheduled for completion soon thereafter.
The atrium housing the Hall of Fame will be devoted to all MU sports, with wall hangings, memorabilia from Fairfield Stadium, Veterans Memorial Field House and the "We Are Marshall" movie, along with Herd trophies from over the years. The goal is to have a museum-quality display, Hamrick said.
With construction of the academic center, the Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program will be able to move from its current cramped quarters in Gullickson Hall. The Harless Program was created to help student athletes balance their academic and athletic demands. Its new home will include 120 computer stations for student athletes to use, as well as tutoring rooms, quiet study areas, a classroom and a small auditorium.
The sports medicine center will contain advanced equipment for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries.
J&H Reinforcing and Structural Erectors of Portsmouth, Ohio, is the general contractor for the project, which was designed by AECOM of Los Angeles, Calif.
The price tag for the new indoor practice field and related facilities is $25 million, with funding coming from Marshall's Vision Campaign, an effort that began in 2011. The campaign is dedicated to raising the funds needed for the current athletic projects and is co-chaired by Chad Pennington, former MU football standout and NFL quarterback along with Mike D'Antoni, former MU basketball star and current head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
In addition to paying for the new indoor athletic facility, funding from the Vision Campaign was used to pay for Marshall's new soccer stadium constructed on the site of the former Veterans Memorial Field House and the addition of four new sky suites at the Edwards Stadium. The soccer stadium cost $8 million and the new suites cost $3.3 million.