Today, the West Virginia athletic department released a gallery of conceptual renderings for a new baseball stadium.
WVU's Michael Fragale also added a short release along with the photos, noting the interest in improving baseball facilities that has been expressed by athletic director Oliver Luck.
Pittsburgh architect Kevin Turkall, president of of Designstream LLC, is responsible for the production of the renderings.
Designstream's online portfolio includes a number of buildings, most notably the Consol Energy Headquarters in Canonsburg, Pa., Seton Hill University recreation center in Greensburg, Pa., and Consol Energy Park, home of the Washington Wild Things, a minor league ball club in Washington, Pa.
Potentially, WVU would be one of possibly three tenants in the park, including the Fairmont State University baseball team, and a new potential minor league club.
All of these designs are still in the conceptual stage and are subject to change.
The planned location of the stadium is at University Town Centre, which is about two miles from the location of the Mountaineers' current home, Hawley Field.
To say that Hawley Field is in need of an upgrade would be an extreme understatement.
To say that I have personally played on high school fields nicer than Hawley Field, would be 100% accurate.
It is ridiculous to expect WVU to compete at the Division I level—especially in the Big 12, one of the strongest baseball conferences in the country—with high school-caliber facilities.
Currently at Hawley, there are no clubhouses. Players must either change in their cars or use the public bathrooms, which are just a step above an outhouse.
Hawley's wide-open, field-level dugouts leave the players and coaches exposed to potentially eating a lined-shot at anytime during the game.
The capacity of its uncomfortable metal bleachers: 1,500. The next smallest stadium in the Big 12 is Kansas State's Tointon Family Stadium with a listed capacity of 2,331 (though it has supported crowds up to 4,280).
Ken Kendrick, a WVU alum and booster who is also a managing partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, told Michael Carvelli of The Daily Athenaeum that a facility upgrade is the first step to becoming competitive in the Big 12.
"There are challenges competitively. Big 12 baseball is very competitive, and I think we have to recognize everything we need to do to get more competitive and you need to start, as always, with first-class facilities," Kendrick said.
Technically, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck had to move out of order, simply because it is quicker to hire a head coach than to build a stadium.
Luck took the first step in improving the baseball program by hiring Randy Mazey away from TCU as the new head baseball coach for WVU.
Mazey has been taking steps himself already.
To aid in the move to the Big 12, he has already brought in two assistants from the state of Texas.
The first was Derek Matlock, a recruiting coordinator and pitching coach from Texas State University who was previously with Mazey at TCU.
"Derek is one of the hardest working recruiters and one of the best pitching coaches out there,” said Mazey in WVU's official release of Matlock's hiring. “I’ve always said that when I received another head coaching opportunity that I wanted to have Derek with me. I am thrilled to have him on my staff at WVU.”
Next, Mazey brought on another coach with connections to TCU.
Steven Trout was the head coach at Texarkana College and played under Mazey at TCU.
He began his coaching career at Texas State and also spent time as an assistant at Houston.
“I’m very excited to join the WVU baseball staff,” Trout said in his official release from WVU. “Coach Mazey is one of the best baseball guys I know. I know I will learn a lot working with him and Derek Matlock. I think Mountaineer baseball is going to make a lot of strides in the Big 12 Conference, and I’m excited to get started.”
Mazey is excited too, and the WVU baseball program could certainly use an injection of energy.
BONUS: Check out Mazey's introductory press conference video below.
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