A facility years in the making, state-of-the-art and second to none. That is what Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field provide to the Penn State athletic community. With numerous donations and the Penn State's Board of Trustees' approval, construction of the $10.2 million complex was completed in time for the 2011 season. The new facility houses the Nittany Lion softball team and allows the program to compete with the best in the country.
The complex, which broke ground on March 28, 2010, features 1,084 permanent seats with fantastic sight lines, handicap-accessible seating, concession stands, permanent bathrooms and merchandise areas for fans. On the softball side of things a brand new field with irrigation, dugouts, batting cages and tunnels, bullpens, scoreboard and a brand new lighting system make the new Nittany Lion Softball Park a collegiate softball gem.
The complex gives the team the ability to consolidate its resources into one area with new training rooms, media center, video room, study space, locker rooms and coaches' offices all housed at the softball park. Additionally, a new press area behind home plate was constructed, which further enhanced the amenities inside the stadium.
Penn State's first game in its new home was Mar. 26, 2011, a thrilling 8-5 victory over Wisconsin. Plenty of firsts were delivered that afternoon and none more memorable than Lisa Akamine's inside-the-park home run as Penn State overcame a three-run deficit to win the inaugural game. For the season, Penn State boasted an 11-8-1 record on Beard Field in its first campaign. It was the first winning season at home since 2007 for the Nittany Lions, which coincided with PSU's last trip to the NCAA Tournament before 2011.
The stadium has already paid dividends for the Nittany Lion program as Penn State hosted the 2011 NCAA Regionals. The event marked the first time PSU hosted NCAA softball in 28 years as Oregon, Fordham and Albany competed with Penn State for the right to go to the NCAA Super Regionals. In the three-day event, nearly 1,900 fans streamed through the turnstiles. Oregon would eventually be the team that would advance, but not before an exciting 16-inning midnight thriller between Penn State and Fordam. The Nittany Lions prevailed, 5-2, in the second-longest game in PSU history.
As if the NCAA event wasn't exciting enough, Penn State then hosted the PIAA Softball Championships. Four games in one day on a sparkling afternoon in mid-June had nearly 3,000 fans attend. The first game of the day featured local powerhouse Philipsburg-Osceola and Brandywine Heights with a standing-room only crowd of 1,800 spectators. The PIAA is committed to Penn State through the 2014 event as Nittany Lion Softball Park earned rave reviews.
Nittany Lion Softball Park is located adjacent to the old Nittany Lion Field near the East Area dorms, on the corner of Park Avenue and University Drive. The new field faces the Bryce Jordan Center, Mount Nittany and University Drive to the southeast, providing spectacular views and a gorgeous setting for all that attend softball games.
FACTS AND FIGURES
1,084 permanent seats with terrific sight lines as well as handicap accessible seating
New clubhouses and dugouts
Permanent press box with dedicated broadcast booths as well as working space
Full concourse with concession stands and bathrooms and merchandise areas
State of the art lighting system
Ability to host NCAA Tournaments as well as PIAA competition
Softball-specific building that houses...
New locker rooms
Media center with adjoining telecom and video room
Study space and players' lounge
Outdoor and indoor training areas including batting cages and bullpens
NITTANY LION SOFTBALL PARK & BEARD FIELD FIRSTS
Game: Mar. 26, 2011; Penn State 8, Wisconsin 5
NITTANY LION SOFTBALL PARK & BEARD FIELD RECORDS
Runs Scored: 9; April 13, 2011 - Penn State 9, Kent State 1 (6 inn.)
"Bill and I are both very pleased to be a small part of this very impressive facility. For us, the decision to give to this facility, to this program, was easy because one of our big passions is certainly the students of this university, but in particular the softball program. Our passion to help the softball program is because we've watched this program grow. There are some common links to this group [of donors]: Fran and George [Vanden], the Stine Family, Peter and Ann Nagle, Bill and I all have in common a link in believing that this is a program that deserves the typical Penn State, first-class facility to be successful."
"Nittany Lion Softball Park will benefit our student-athletes by providing them with a centrally located locker room, training room, practice and competition facility. It will greatly enhance our coaches recruiting efforts and allow us to host softball tournaments and championship events. We are thankful to all of our donors who are helping to make this facility a reality for our softball program. Everyone is very excited for the 2011 opening of Nittany Lion Softball Park and the start a new era of Penn State softball."
ON BEARD FIELD DEDICATION
On October 9, 2009, Penn State and the Beard Family were proud to announce long-time plans for a new softball facility, dubbed Nittany Lion Softball Park, would come to fruition in 2011. Thanks to a large donation from Lee and William Beard, Nittany Lion softball will enter the new decade in prime position to own one of the finest facilities not only in the Northeast and Big Ten but also in all of the United States.
The $500,000 gift by the Beards is one of the largest made by individuals to support a Penn State athletic facilities project. With the generous gift, the facility's surface will bear the name of the family, Beard Field. The new Nittany Lion Softball Park gives Penn State the opportunity to host major competitions such as the NCAA Tournament, which has not taken place in Happy Valley since 1985. In the past decade, Penn State has become a regular in the NCAA Tournament, making seven appearances, all since 2000, in the sport's highest competition.
The future home of Nittany Lion softball is broke ground on March 28, 2010 in order to be ready for games in 2011. Ceremonial groundbreaking took place on May 7, 2010 with several dignitaries of the Penn State University and athletic community. The new Nittany Lion Softball Park is located on the same site as the current Nittany Lion Field, with the diamond being shifted from its current place facing the southwest to now face the southeast and Mount Nittany.