HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – The Marshall University Board of Governors unanimously approved a project for a new, state-of-the-art baseball facility.

Marshall University administrators presented a revised baseball stadium project during a special meeting today, Friday, June 24 in Huntington. The new stadium will be built between 2nd Avenue and 22nd Streets adjacent to Marshall’s Dot Hicks Field.

“It also gives room for expansion,” says head baseball coach Jeff Wagoner. “Not only baseball, but for other sports and other projects for the university and the city. So that whole area becomes a better area for everybody. Just to enjoy. The atmosphere will be better for fans, and for alumni, and obviously the future of the program.

We’re also jumping into one of the best conferences in the country,” Waggs continued. “It’s the third or fourth best baseball conference in the country. If you’ve been watching the regionals, a lot of teams that were in the regionals were teams comin in, or already in, the Sun Belt. And we had a team win a national championship not too long ago in Coastal Carolina. So it’s just gonna be an awesome experience for our area to see some of the best baseball played in the country.”

The project had initially been planned for a property on 5th Avenue but was relocated because the new location will reduce the cost of the project and speed up the timeline on the project’s completion, according to Marshall University President Brad D. Smith.

“Marshall is ready to see this long-anticipated ball field come to fruition,” Smith said.  “Our partners, including the City of Huntington, are ready.  Our intention to build this ballpark has never wavered and while we encountered a major hurdle in the COVID pandemic, it’s never dampened our enthusiasm to see this project to its completion.”

University officials say the process to find a development partner will begin in the coming weeks. They plan to have the final selection made by October. Smith says they anticipate a construction timeline of approximately 15 months for the project and the university’s goal is to have the stadium ready for the 2024 season.

Both Board of Governors and City of Huntington leaders say they welcome the project and are eager to see it completed.

“The Board of Governors continues to be supportive and steadfast in its commitment to have a baseball stadium on the campus of Marshall University,” said Board of Governors Athletics Committee Chair Chris Miller. “Too many times we have heard, ‘I will believe it when I see it’ and we are all eager to hear the sound of equipment moving dirt to begin construction of our new baseball facility.”

“I’m pleased that President Smith, Athletic Director (Christian) Spears and the Marshall University Board of Governors have settled on an aggressive plan for the construction of the new baseball stadium,” Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said.  “My conversations with them have reinforced my confidence that I have a determined and trusted partner in Marshall University. Marshall is the heart of our city, and I am enthused that we can take on big projects that will benefit our university, city, state and region. We are demonstrating what ‘We are Marshall’ means.”

The Herd Rises campaign is continuing to raise funds for the new baseball stadium. Those who want to donate to the project can do so by texting GOHERD to 801801 or by calling 304-696-4661. Marshall Athletic Director Christian Spears says he has confidence in the project.

“This is why this university and community are so special,” Spears said. “We don’t back down, we don’t quit. We partner, we collaborate, we include, we find a way, we believe…and here WE ARE, ready to move forward with a new location, timeline, budget, and plan.  Many have questioned, many have demanded and now we need many to give…I am just so grateful to this community because I know they will.”