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March 19, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Board of Trustees announced final approval of a 10.2 million, LEED-certified softball stadium to be built on the current site of Nittany Lion Field on Friday afternoon. The facility, which will be named Beard Field, is scheduled to be open in time for the 2011 season.
"We are tremendously excited of the Board of Trustees' approval," head coach Robin Petrini said. "We have been waiting for this day for a long time. Everyone is looking forward to being a part of this project and the student-athletes can't wait to play in one of the best facilities in the nation."
The school received a substantial gift from lead benefactors E. Lee and William Beard to be put towards the project, which will be located off Park Avenue where the current softball field is situated. Plans call for the stadium to be energy efficient and responsible by design, earning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
"We are pleased to help support the Penn State softball program," E. Lee and William Beard said of their donation in October 2009. "This softball field and the stadium are important parts of this program being attractive to young women who can benefit from being Penn State student-athletes. Coach Robin Petrini and her staff provide valuable leadership and need a first-class facility to continually recruit national-caliber players to the program. We hope this contribution entices others to join us in providing the facilities needed to help the softball program reach its goals within the Big Ten Conference and nationally."
Permanent seating will be able to accommodate 1,084 fans, which will feature all the amenities a state of the art facility possesses. New dugouts, bullpens and batting cages will be the most visible on-field additions to the facility while the new stadium will boast a softball-specific training room, locker rooms, batting tunnels and new coaches offices. In addition, a brand new press box will sit behind home plate that will feature room for television crews, radio broadcasts as well as space for game day staff and working media.
"We cannot thank the Beard family enough," said associate athletic director Susan Delaney Scheetz. "For their financial support of the project that will allow our coaches and student-athletes to compete in a first class facility. Beard Field will help with recruiting and allow us to host tournaments and championship events."
The new stadium will have its diamond face University Drive and Mount Nittany to the southeast. The main building, which will house the offices and locker rooms will be on the first base side. Currently, Nittany Lion Field faces the Intramural Building and East Area Dorms to the southwest.
"The current field seats only 300 spectators, which is below the minimum for NCAA tournaments and the National Club Softball Association World Series," said Al Horvath, senior vice president for finance and business. "An improved facility will mean a better game day experience for everyone. These improvements also allow Penn State to host high school and collegiate tournament competition."
The stadium received a major boost in October of 2009 when the Beards announced plans to donate $500,000 towards the stadium. For her contribution, E. Lee Beard was named Penn State's Fundraising Volunteer of the Year in December of 2009. On January 22, the Board of Trustees officially named the stadium Beard Field, which set the stage for today's announcement.
"Bill and Lee Beards' generosity allows us to move forward in bringing a first-class softball stadium to Penn State, the community and Central Pennsylvania," Penn State director of athletics Tim Curley said.
In addition to the field's surface being named after the Beards, the home team locker room will be named the Fran Vanden Locker Room for a gift annuity from George and Frances Vanden. The naming of the locker room was also approved in January.
L. Robert Kimball and Associates has been tasked with the overall design of the facility, which is set to complement the adjacent buildings and recall some design aspects of Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the stadium shared by the Penn State baseball team and State College Spikes baseball club.
Equipment will be moving into the new softball stadium site to start construction on Monday, Mar. 22. Official groundbreaking ceremonies will be announced at a later date. The stadium is expected to be ready by the start of next season in 2011.
The news of Beard Field comes just days before Penn State's home opener against Saint Francis on Wednesday. The doubleheader is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. with live commentary through Twitter (@PSULionSoftball) and live stats on GameTracker.
For complete coverage of all the Nittany Lion softball this season, visit GoPSUsports.com.
Follow Penn State Softball on Twitter @PSULionSoftball