FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington softball and baseball players will have clubhouses and training facilities worthy of a world-class, collegiate program by January 2015 as a result of a $5.5 million softball/baseball complex expansion and renovation plan.
The project will add a softball field house to Allan Saxe Field, home of the UT Arlington softball team, and a field house to Clay Gould Ballpark, home of the baseball team. The work also will include field improvements and upgrades to the sound systems and bleachers at the complex, off Fielder Road and West Park Row in Arlington.
“Our softball and baseball programs have a rich tradition of success, and our student-athletes have a strong track record,” President Vistasp M. Karbhari said. “This investment will provide our teams the support they need to train and compete at the highest levels. It is a signal to the brightest talent that they belong at UT Arlington.”
Jim Baker, director of intercollegiate athletics, said the University’s support has been critical in continuing to develop UT Arlington softball and baseball.
“This is a pivotal year for UT Arlington athletics as we move to the Sun Belt Conference and compete with a new cohort of like-minded universities,” Baker said. “World-class facilities allow our student-athletes to be their best, both on and off the fields.”
Darin Thomas, head baseball coach since 2008, said facilities are a top consideration for the best recruits, who need space to study, prep for games, eat a meal and gather together as a team.
“This project will elevate our program and help us build upon our history of developing winning teams and producing outstanding athletes,” Thomas said.
Kristie Fox, softball coach since June 2012, said the project will give her staff the leverage it needs to persuade top student-athletes to commit to UT Arlington.
“We are so grateful to everyone who has been an advocate and supported the renovations,” Fox added.
Clay Gould Ballpark was built in 1974 and underwent a limited renovation in 2003. Allan Saxe Field, home to UT Arlington softball, was renovated in 1993. New, indoor baseball and softball practice facilities opened early this year.
But because the fields do not have on-site locker rooms or training facilities, players currently share space at Maverick Stadium with track-and-field students, driving between the stadium and fields to change, shower or be treated for injury.
Construction is expected to begin following the Spring 2014 season and be completed by early 2015. The work will be funded primarily from previously approved bond proceeds, but also will include philanthropic support. Among those supporters is alumnus Roy D. Wilson, (BBA, ’79) an operations engineer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, and his wife Patti.
A longtime Maverick baseball supporter, Wilson’s son was an accomplished youth baseball player and frequent participant in UT Arlington baseball summer camps before he died in 2010 at age 13.
Wilson leveraged his company’s matching gift program to strengthen the impact of his personal contributions to UT Arlington baseball. The University will recognize his contributions by naming the men’s indoor practice facility the Justin D. Wilson Batting Facility in honor of his son.
“Our players should have the best facilities, comparable to those you see at other major schools,” Wilson said. “I’ve always wanted to do whatever possible to help make sure that the top recruits in our region choose UT Arlington over any other opportunity. My goal is to help enable our student-athletes to advance to the College World Series every year.”