Louisiana Tech University is undergoing a total rebuild for several of its athletic facilities.
The school announced plans Thursday to rebuild the baseball, soccer and softball fields that were damaged when an EF3 tornado hit Ruston on April 25.
"We are so excited to unveil our vision for the future homes for Louisiana Tech baseball, soccer and softball," said Louisiana Tech Director of Athletics Tommy McClelland during a Thursday morning press conference, noting that the goal is for the facilities to be ready for the 2020-21 school year. "The construction of the Davison Athletics Complex and the new press box and suites over the past six years have established a standard of excellence for Louisiana Tech Athletics. Our goal with these new facilities is to meet or even surpass that standard. With our eyes focused on our student athletes' welfare and our fans' game-day experience, we feel we are delivering at a level that will be second to none in our conference and our region."
The seven-month process resulted in Thursday’s unveiling of plans for the three new facilities. Project renderings were completed by TBA Studios, while Lincoln Builders is the contractor for all three projects.
The baseball field will stay where the previous complex – J.C. Love Field – had been since 1971. It needs to be completely rebuilt after, according to the News-Star, J.C. Love’s concrete overhang collapsed, the outfield wall was blown away and the scoreboard was demolished by the tornado.
The new stadium will have a capacity of 2,500 and feature a concourse, bathrooms and concessions. A separate baseball facility will also be constructed with an indoor practice facility, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, a team meeting room and a player lounge.
"It's such an exciting day not only for our baseball program and athletics department, but also for our great university and community as a whole,” Louisiana Tech baseball coach Lane Burroughs said. “The entire landscape of our athletic facilities is being taken to an entirely new level.”
The soccer and softball programs will share a two-level practice facility between the new soccer and softball fields. The practice facility will include locker rooms, player lounges, team meeting rooms and coaches’ offices that will overlook the new fields.
The soccer field will move from its previous location to the site of the current intramural rugby field. The capacity will be 750 and include tailgating opportunities, restrooms, concessions, ticket booths and a plaza entry. A total rebuild was needed, as the tornado destroyed the stands, scoreboard, benches and goals.
"The loss of our field was devastating and the memories we created there will never go away,” women’s soccer coach Kevin Sherry said. “This new complex will give us a chance to create even greater memories. It will play a huge role in recruiting and provide a unique experience for the student athletes and fans alike. It is exciting and the team can't wait to play their first game here."
The softball field will be constructed west of the soccer field, seat a capacity of 1,000 and include the same amenities as the soccer complex. The outfield fence of the previous softball field was demolished in the tornado, while a hole was put in the scoreboard, batting cages and a bullpen were destroyed, trees fell onto the stands and press box, and light poles snapped.
"While the tornado last April brought devastation and heartbreak to our program, university, and community, it has also allowed us the opportunity to rebuild a stronger foundation for the future,” softball coach Maria Winn-Ratliff said. “The dynamics of our new facility will provide our current student athletes with the resources to be more successful while enhancing their overall experience at Louisiana Tech.”
The Louisiana Tech tennis complex is also being renovated thanks to a $250,000 donation in September from Tim Cutt and Carolyn Cutt in honor of former professor Dr. Robert Caruthers.