Tabor?s training facility should aid recruiting

Don Ratzlaff / Free Press<p>The dotted box indicates the approximate position of the indoor baseball training facility Tabor College is planning to build this fall and winter. The $250,000 project, when fully completed, will include a locker room attached to the back of the home dugout for a clubhouse effect. The two-story structure also will include a new pressbox and a view-out on the second floor?similar to the one overlooking the football field from the Pendery Athletic Center.
Don Ratzlaff / Free Press<p>The dotted box indicates the approximate position of the indoor baseball training facility Tabor College is planning to build this fall and winter. The $250,000 project, when fully completed, will include a locker room attached to the back of the home dugout for a clubhouse effect. The two-story structure also will include a new pressbox and a view-out on the second floor?similar to the one overlooking the football field from the Pendery Athletic Center.

Tabor College officials say construction on the long-awaited fine arts center may not begin in earnest until spring, the result of unexpected delays.

Meanwhile, construction of a second building project on campus could begin as early as next month.

Rusty Allen, vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said construction on a proposed indoor training facility for baseball could begin next month and be completed for use by late February or early March.

Facility features

The two-story building, measuring 60 feet by 80 feet with side walls measuring 20 feet tall, will be located along the first-base side of the college baseball field and immediately west of the city water tower.

Allen said the first floor will include a locker room for the players, a restroom and three full-length netted stations with a turf surface that can be used for batting practice or pitching bull?pens.

The second floor of the building will have a similar feature for the baseball field that the Bluejay Suite/Hall of Fame Room in the Pen?dery Center provides for the football field.

?It will be a view-out from the south looking to the north on the first-base line,? Allen said. ?There also will be a press box up there.

?We?ve got the little press box as an attachment to the dugout right now, but it?s not a good situation,? he added.
?So we?ll move the press box up above.?

The entire project is estimated to cost around $250,000. Allen said Tabor has raised about $215,000 so far, which is enough to make the facility useable for the baseball program.

?We?re still trying to raise enough money so we can also replace the home dug?out,? Allen said. ?The idea there would be that the dug?out would be an extension of the indoor facility so you have a clubhouse effect. The players can move from the dugout, through a door and right into their locker room.

?If we can raise enough extra money, we want to make the dugout a little bit more special, like put some heaters in there,? he added. ?It gets really cold for some of our games in?March when we play here, and it will be more spacious.?

Planning and funding

Allen said this project has been envisioned for two to three years.

?It?s taken different shapes and forms as we?ve tried to anticipate how much money we?d have,? he said. ?We?ve envisioned everything?from what we?re planning to do now, to a whole new softball-baseball complex down on the land we own (on the south edge of the campus).

?That?s kind of the ultimate goal with our baseball-softball program?building a dual-field complex with a press box in the middle. But that takes a lot more money. I don?t know when that might come to fruition.?

The current project was jumped-started with a substantial lead gift from Lee and Leanna Penner of Aurora, Neb., after whom the facility will be named.

Lee Penner, a 1957 graduate of Tabor, was inducted into the college?s hall of fame in 2008, having excelled in both basketball and baseball.

As for the remaining funds needed to fully complete the project, Allen said, ?We?ve just recently started making an appeal to the broader baseball alumni community, and we?re getting some response on that.?

?The goal is, even if we can?t complete it all now, that we will continue the (fund?raising) effort. We won?t do any construction without the money in hand.?

Benefits

Allen said the new training facility will enhance the baseball program in several ways, not the least of which is providing sufficient indoor space for year-round training.

?In the winter in Kansas, you really can?t practice outside,? Allen said. ?The NAIA and the KCAC have gone the way of the rest of our culture on competitive athletics. Teams practice year-round, pretty much, or at least condition.?

The baseball team has been using the gymnasium in the Campus Recreation Center for mid-winter training and conditioning?when the men?s and women?s basketball teams aren?t using it.

?We have practices in there starting at 4 (p.m.) until 10 or 11 at night,? Allen said. ?If we can take a team out of that, and do their practicing for hitting and pitching (in the new facility), it relieves the pressure. The general student body can use (the CRC gym) more, and other teams can use it more.?

Another advantage will be the convenience of having the baseball locker room situated right next to the field rather than in the Pendery Center on the north end of the football stadium.

?That?s hardly a long walk, but most teams have their locker room right by their (baseball field)? Allen said.

Ultimately, Tabor?s training facility will help with recruiting athletes for baseball.

?I think that?s probably the No. 1 thing,? he said. ?If you combine upgraded facilities with outstanding leadership?and we believe Coach (Mark) Standiford has proven he?s an outstanding leader?and you add a winning reputation, all those things together give you a competitive advantage when you recruit.?

Local cooperation

Prior to the start of construction, the city of Hills?boro will need to reroute some waterlines to preserve appropriate right-of-ways for maintaining its water tower.

Last week, the city council agreed to order the replacement pipe itself rather than wait for a contractor to do it later, with the goal of expediting the college?s construction timeline.

Allen said he appreciates the city?s willingness to work with the college.

?The city of Hillsboro and Tabor are once more demonstrating in this community that we really do a good job of looking out for each other and partnering in wanting what?s best for each other,? Allen said.

?There?s always some negotiation that takes place with things like that, but with the partners in this community, those negotiations that I?ve either witnessed or been a part of have always been healthy.?