Construction nears completion on practice facility, softball field

Above, the basketball practice facility is expected to be completed in January. Below, the softball field will be finished in time for the first home game March 16. || Kylie Townsend/The News

Above, the basketball practice facility is expected to be completed in January. Below, the softball field will be finished in time for the first home game March 16. || Kylie Townsend/The News

With the calendar year drawing to a close, two facilities projects for Racers athletics are nearing completion.

Work began in February and the basketball practice facility is still on schedule for completion in January of 2013.

“The construction process has continued and we’re on schedule,” said Athletics Director Allen Ward. “We’re expecting completion on January 1st. I think anybody that’s been able to see it progress has seen it move right along. They’ve stayed right on the schedule as we’d hoped. They’ll turn it over to us some time in the early part of January.”

The new facility will not only provide both the men and women’s basketball teams with an up-to-date practice and training facility, but will also provide offices for both coaching staffs. Though the coaching staff is not likely to move mid-season, the facility will be open for both teams to use following completion.

“They’ll probably be using the practice area,” Ward said. “As far as when the coaches move, I don’t know if that’s been determined yet. If there was a break a few days in the season that we could get them moved over there then we might consider doing that. If not they’ll move over after the season is completed. The court itself and the practice area will be available for the team.”

In addition to the new practice facility, the Murray State softball team is getting a field of its own after three seasons of games at Central Park. The field is on schedule for completion before the Racers’ first home game in mid-March.

“It’s coming along,” Ward said. “You’ll notice that they’ve done a little bit of the grating for the field itself. The fence is up. You’ll start seeing holes being dug for the lights coming soon. If the weather holds true we’ll continue to put up the structure of the facility.”

That progress was delayed for a short time early in construction.

“We’ve run into a couple of little snags but nothing that we can’t overcome,” Ward said. “We had to do a little more planning in a couple of areas but we still expect to be completed by the time the season starts in February. Our first home game isn’t until March, so we should be up and running and be able to play on it by the time we open up our home season.”

Progress on the field is still moving forward, however there have been some minor setbacks, Ward said.

“Just normal little things as far as approval and some of the architectural and engineering review we have to go through,” he said. “It’s nothing major at all. Just a couple of things we had to provide to the state and we’ve done that and we’re moving ahead now.”

However, should the issues early in the construction process cause delays in the Racers taking their new home field, the Murray State softball team does have a backup plan.

“We still have several months and I’ve been working closely with Facilities Management and we’re confident that it’s going to get done,” Ward said. “But if we have to start (at Central Park) we’ve got a good relationship with Murray-Calloway County Parks and Recreation and we’d be able to do that.”

Ward said, regardless of its status the updates will undoubtedly have a positive impact on both Racer basketball and softball’s ability to continue to recruit and compete with the best.

Story by: Kyra Ledbetter, Staff writer