Accessibility complex for softball/baseball under construction
With construction underway, a new bathroom/concessions complex erected between the baseball and softball fields is expected to be ready for use by June.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Tom Meyer, the project’s coordinator, said the building has been on a list of improvements since renovations were made to the baseball field five years ago.
“It does a couple things,” Meyer said. “For one thing, it serves those venues with closer proximity, and it also reduces the traffic in and out of the Elmen Center. And I think it’s a better quality experience for fans.”
Prior to the new complex, fans had to use porta-potties or use the Elmen’s restrooms.
“Looking at it from the softball side of things, if a person wants to use indoor bathrooms, they have to walk a pretty long way to get to the Elmen,” senior baseball player Tyler Vaughn said. “This might cause a parent to miss an entire inning of a game at times.”
Junior baseballer Jonas Lovin said his parents missed him pitch during a game after trekking to the Elmen.
“[Having the new building] won’t be as much of a hassle for people,” he said.
Because of cases like this, Vaughn said the new addition is a worthy and timely one.
“Porta-potties are not ideal for a sporting event, and I think I can speak for everyone when saying that you would prefer not to use them,” he said.
Another benefit of the new building is the possibility of raising funds through concession sales that will be provided through Sodexo. Director of Athletics Slade Larscheid said as of right now, concession sales will not go toward improving the baseball and softball fields.
“The greatest need for the facility is to offer adequate amenities for fans and visitors,” Larscheid said, “Also, bathroom accessibility that meets ADA requirements was a major priority.”
Sophomore softball player Shannon Petersen had hoped that part of concession sales would go toward improving the softball field’s sound system.
Although the building wasn’t expected to be completed for this season, Meyer said it may be finished earlier than the June timetable. The complex will have six bathroom stalls, concessions and a storage space.
“I’ll be very happy when it is completed this spring,” baseball head coach Tim Huber said.
After identifying the need during a campus master plan that prioritized projects over the next 5-to-10 years, funding for the project arrived via an alumni donation. The bathroom/concession complex is one of three improvements the donation went toward, including the addition of new bleachers at the soccer and softball venues.
But beyond improving the fan experience for parents, visitors, and recruits, Vaughn believes it will keep up with the growth of Augustana athletics and facilities.
“This building is just another addition to that process,” he said.