Work began this summer on a new Kansas University softball facility on the site of the old one.
Construction began in mid-June with the major change being the repositioning of home plate to where center field was at aging Jayhawk Field.
Plans call for the field to be lowered by about three feet, grass planted and state-of-the-art sunken dugouts installed.
In the future, permanent stands, concession areas, rest rooms and a press box will be added. The last phase will consist of construction of locker and equipment rooms for both softball and soccer. Overall, it's a $4 million-plus project.
The project was made possible by a pledge of $2 million from Cheryl Womack of Mission Hills, who is donating $400,000 a year for five years. KU officials hope to raise the additional money from other donors.
The first phase is expected to cost about $1.3 million. Most of that money will go toward assuring the new facility will have no drainage problems and that the infield will be sculpted with the latest in surface technology -- a mixture of dirt and a synthetic compound that will dry quickly and alleviate watering costs. The outfield will be a mix of bluegrass and fescue.
Although KU coach Tracy Bunge had hoped to have all phases of construction completed by the start of the 2004 season, she said recruiting already had been enhanced now that work was under way.
"The immediate impact will be on kids we're looking at now," Bunge said. "They'll see progress is being made. We haven't wanted to take recruits to our facility for the last several years."