The Virginia Tech softball team has the luxury of playing and practicing in some of the finest facilities on the East Coast. Using the Tech Softball Park, Rector Field House and a brand-new, state-of-the-art weight room, the Hokies train in terrific facilities designed to help them win championships. Combined with a new locker room and one of the best scoreboard and video boards in the country, the Hokies have it all when it comes to what they need to win.
Tech Softball Park, which was completed in the fall of 1997, has dimensions of 200 feet down the lines and 220 feet to center field. In January of 2008, an additional 746 permanent seats were installed, bringing the capacity up from 336 to 1,024. The new bleachers match the ones that were already in place and now extend down to the end of both dugouts. Nets were extended down both lines in 2010 to ensure fan safety from foul balls.
Also, the roofs of the dugouts were removed and the dugouts themselves were lowered approximately two feet so that the bleachers could be built over top of them. The cost of the project was approximately $900,000. Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas & Co. from Wytheville handled the project, with Tech graduate Keith Storms serving as the project manager for the architecture firm.
To conclude the project, in the summer of 2008, workers poured a concrete patio behind the bleachers to give fans a safe walkway to areas around Tech Softball Park. Permanent rest room facilities are also available for use just a short walk from the stadium.
In the fall of 2011, a new video board, scoreboard and sound system were installed, giving Tech the fourth-largest video board in college softball installed by Daktronics. The overall dimensions of the structure is 28 feet wide by 21 feet tall, and includes the Sportsound-500HD sound system speakers in the board so the sound will be directed straight to the stands as opposed to over the fans’ heads now. The display can operate as an independent display showing single large images or be divided in multiple zones (windows) to show a wide variety of statistics, information graphics, animations, and live and recorded video.
The additional seats allow Tech to be eligible to serve as the host of NCAA Regional events - something it hadn’t been able to do in the past. In May of 2010, Tech successfully served as the host for the ACC Championships for the first time in program history. Between the stadium expansion, the $200,000 lighting project that saw six poles with permanent lights added and the new video and scoreboard, the athletics department has spent nearly $2 million in renovations on Tech Softball Park over the past few seasons.
Other improvements to the venue over the years include a new backstop and padding designed to give fans more protection when enjoying a game; a new playing field, complete with a modern drainage system and surrounded by a grass apron; and thanks to a generous donation, a new batting cage was installed and another was built under the stands, giving the Hokies more tools to help them achieve their goals.
Tech Softball Park also includes amenities for working press and game operations. At the top of the bleachers are three prefabricated, 8-by-18 foot press boxes. Complete with power and phone lines, they accommodate all the needs of the media. The press boxes also have air conditioning and heat, as well as Ethernet cable and wireless connections, which allow for live stats and broadcasts of every home game on Tech’s official Web site, hokiesports.com.
On top of the main press box is a camera platform, allowing for video by either team, as well as media covering the event. Two additional press boxes were added at the top of the bleachers during the last phase of renovation, tripling the current capacity.
New banners were placed on the new scoreboard, celebrating Tech’s two ACC titles, its regular-season ACC title in 2007, the five NCAA Regional appearances, its Super Regional and the Women’s College World Series berth from 2008. A special banner was hung on the right field fence on Sept. 13, 2008, for 2008 USA Softball National Player of the Year Angela Tincher, who had her number retired in a special ceremony before a football game.
Fans have filed into Tech Softball Park in record numbers over the years. A record 1,977 fans crammed in and around the park for a doubleheader against North Carolina State in 2005, and attendance has gone over the 1,000 mark nine times in program history.
Tech fans have taken a love to their Hokie softball team, with attendance skyrocketing through the roof recently. In 2005, Tech ranked 15th nationally in average attendance and was 17th in 2006, averaging 551 fans per home contest. In 2007, the Hokies averaged 547 fans per home event, 21st-best in the country. In 2008, that number rose to 699, placing Tech 13th nationally and in the top 25 for the fourth straight year. Tech was also 21st in the country in overall home attendance with 8,395 people attending the 12 dates. That figure was the highest in the country for that few home dates.
Last year, the Hokies averaged 599 fans per home date, the second-highest average in school history, trailing only the 2008 season of 699 fans, when Tech advanced to the Women’s College World Series.
Since the Hokies started playing at Tech Softball Park, they have compiled a record of 197-78, including a 17-0 campaign in 1999.
When weather doesn’t allow for outdoor practice, the team moves into Rector Field House. Located adjacent to the playing field, the field house has an artificial surface, batting cages and ample room for drills. It is also equipped with a training room.
Players can also train in a brand-new, state-of-the-art weight room located on the second floor of Cassell Coliseum. The new weight room, opened in June of 2012, is a two-level, 7,800-square foot facility that cost $1 million to build. It features 10 weight stations, a new sound system, televisions, a plyometrics and agility platform, new offices and the latest in weight room flooring. With the two weight rooms available to Tech athletes, the Hokies have more than 24,800-square feet of strength and conditioning training space.
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