Those who love summer don’t want to see it end, but baseball players at North Greenville University are excited for next spring because of the scheduled completion of the first phase of a multi-phase baseball complex renovation and building project.
Situated where the current Ashmore Field baseball complex sits on the NGU campus, will be a construction project that will overhaul NGU’s baseball program and will be the catalyst for a much enhanced student life experience.
“We’re bringing a similar concept to what the City of Greenville used for the Greenville Drive Park in downtown Greenville’s West End,” said Associate Athletic Director and Director of Athletic Giving, Micah Sepko. “We hope athletics will become the central hub for all student life activities.”
Phase one, the cornerstone of the project, will be a complete reworking of the current playing surface, costing $1.2 million, which is funded by private donations. These refurbishments include the installation of artificial turf with a standard dirt mound. In addition, there will be new outfield fencing, backstop fencing, scoreboard, bullpen, and batting cages. Grading for the artificial playing surface begin in the coming weeks.
The university anticipates the new playing surface will be ready for the Crusaders’ first home baseball game on February 8, 2018.
Bea Dillard, of Spartanburg, along with an anonymous donor have made the lead gifts to begin the project. The new turf playing field will be named Ray Dillard Field, in memory of Bea’s husband. Ray, who passed away in 2016, played baseball for the City of Spartanburg for many years and because of his love for the game of baseball, she has honored him with a monetary gift to Crusader athletics.
“North Greenville University has the reputation of providing students with a quality Christian education, and I want to ensure the next generation of athletes have the same opportunity,” says Dillard.
A complete announcement about the remaining phases will be made in February, when Dillard Field is dedicated. These additional projects will include a new 700-seat stadium and hospitality suite, new residential spaces, and a new wellness and outdoor recreational area, including a unique multi-level structure featuring glass on all sides to view the picturesque scenery of the baseball field and mountain ranges; the final phase will be renovation of the fieldhouse to include a players’ lounge and newly renovated locker room facilities.
“These phases weren’t named in any particular order. We will complete phases as funds are designated.” said Sepko. “We could begin phase four before phase two. It will be determined by donor interest.”
North Greenville baseball has enjoyed plenty of recent success on the diamond including a Conference Carolinas tournament championship in 2014 and the program’s first trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. Since Powell’s arrival, the Crusaders have compiled a record of 102-56 with a 53-19 mark at Ashmore Field. This includes a 21-1 mark in Tigerville last season. The Crusaders have also enjoyed success in the classroom boasting 20 Academic All-Conference performers.
“This is huge news for the North Greenville baseball program,” said head baseball coach Landon Powell. “My coaching staff, players, and I could not be more excited about the state of the art changes coming to our baseball facility. Our facility will be second to none at the D2 level, and I believe we will be the first college or university to have an all turf baseball field in the state of South Carolina.”
He says the current players and coaches have been working tirelessly to build a special program at NGU, and thank the administration for believing in them by giving this boost to their facility.
“I am thankful to Bea Dillard for her generous contribution to jump start this project, as well as countless others who have been vital to getting us to this point. We are so grateful and thankful, and look forward to continuing to glorify God and grow His Kingdom through this game that we all love so much,” said Powell.
NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. says, “This strategic initiative will have an immediate positive impact on recruitment and retention for North Greenville, which will bring more talented young people to our campus. We look forward to seeing full alignment between our academic programs, our athletics programs, our student activities, and even our campus ministries.”
The Greenville office of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture will be the lead architectural contact for the project. They are one of the leading regional architecture, planning and interior design firms in the Southeast with offices in Atlanta, Asheville, Charleston, Charlotte, Greenville, and Spartanburg.
For more information about the project, contact Micah Sepko at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 864.977.7157.