Missouri softball team to get a new stadium

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 | 7:43 p.m. CDT; updated 6:49 a.m. CDT, Thursday, June 26, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Missouri softball team will be burning up the base paths in a new stadium.

The University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved the MU Campus Master Plan, which included the proposal for a new softball stadium, at its meeting last Thursday.

"The (Board of Curators) approved it last week, but we are still in the planning and design process," Missouri athletics department spokesman Chad Moller said.

Since it is so early in the planning and design process, Moller said, the cost of the stadium, a timeline for its completion and its look have yet to be determined.

The idea of a new softball stadium has been discussed for the past couple of years, Moller said. 

The softball team's current home is University Field, which hosted its first game in 1981.  

The athletics department decided against renovating the current field and decided to build an entirely new stadium in a new location. The proposed softball stadium will be located between the Hearnes Center and the General Services Building.

"We felt like it was more beneficial for the softball team to have a new facility," Moller said.

After looking at several locations, the athletics department decided that the location between the Hearnes Center and the General Services Building would best suit its needs.

"It works the best from an access standpoint and the ease of use for fans with all of the parking so close," Moller said.

The construction of the new softball stadium will eliminate some of the parking next to Hearnes, but the MU Campus Master Plan shows the possible addition of more parking to make up for that.

The athletics department still does not know what will be done with University Field once the team moves into its new home.

Moller said that Ehren Earleywine, the head coach of the Missouri softball team, has done a good job at building the team up and recruiting players. Moller said the new stadium will help enhance the softball program and possibly bring in more top student athletes to the program.

Earleywine became the coach of the softball team in August 2006. In the years he has been head coach, he has led the team to its first three 50-win seasons in school history and three Women's College World Series appearances. Since 2007, the softball team has been one of the winningest programs in the nation.

Moller said that Earleywine is a great "teacher of the game" and has been able to improve the softball program in the past seven years. Moller added that the program could be said to be one of the most successful sports programs at Missouri.

As for the future goals for the softball team and what the athletics department hopes it will achieve, Moller said, "Expectations are always high."

The MU Campus Master Plan included not only plans for a new softball stadium but also plans for a new indoor practice facility for the football team, a Tiger Welcome Center and improvements to buildings across the campus.

Supervising editor is Wade Livingston.

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