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Chuck Landon: Marshall making some progress on baseball field

November 14, 2018

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.

Here are the opinions du jour.

n Some Marshall fans are still skeptical about Marshall University finally building a baseball stadium.

Not me.

I couldn’t be more encouraged.

That’s because Marshall is as close as it ever has been to actually building a baseball stadium.

Is it there yet? Have the details been finalized? Has a date for the start of construction been scheduled?

No.

Yet, real progress is happening.

Marshall recently signed a memorandum of understanding, according to sources, with the Huntington Municipal Development Authority to purchase the Flint Group property.

The property is located on the left side of Fifth Avenue across from Stewart’s Hot Dogs and consists of a parking lot and warehouse. The property is divided by 24th Street.

Marshall, HMDA and the City of Huntington are expected to go together to buy the property.

That’s progress.

So is this.

Marshall has hired an architectural firm - AECOM - to begin drawing up blueprints for a 3,500-seat baseball stadium, that will cost $15$18 million. Why 3,500 seats? It’s because that is the minimum seating requirement for hosting an NCAA Regional baseball tournament.

If the AECOM firm sounds familiar, it’s because it should.

It’s the same architectural company Marshall used for the construction of the Indoor Practice Facility along with the other parts of the Phil Cline Complex. Also, AECOM was the company that built Marshall’s new soccer stadium - the Hoops Family Field.

The progress doesn’t end there, either.

Marshall and HMDA have hired a company to do a Brownfield study on the Flint Group property. That will determine if the land is safe to build on or if the soil is contaminated and, if so, to what degree.

Since a portion of the property is paved and there is very little excavation planned for the construction of a baseball stadium, the land is believed to be relatively safe

That’s why the Marshall administration is moving forward by soliciting donations. According to sources, it hasn’t reached the level of becoming a fund-raising campaign. But that’s eventually the goal.

As for now, it is best characterized as a “silent” fund-raising movement.

This “silent” campaign actually began on Homecoming Weekend on October 19-20. That’s when the 1973 Marshall University baseball team, which advanced to the NCAA Regional tournament, was recognized for its achievements along with a total of 125 former Thundering Herd baseball players who gathered for the event.

The first mention of a baseball stadium for Marshall was mentioned then.

And now?

The movement is taking several very positive steps toward reaching the ultimate goal of - at long last - a baseball stadium for Marshall University.

I’ve waited 48 years for this and adopted a believe-it-when-I-see-it outlook.

But, now, I truly think it’s going to happen.

n So long, Southern Miss.

Marshall’s football team has played the Golden Eagles every year since joining Conference USA in 2005 14 consecutive seasons. But the streak ended with Southern Miss’ 26-24 win over Marshall on Nov. 3.

Next season, instead of playing a West Division cross-over game against Southern Miss, MU will play at Rice and home to Louisiana Tech. In 2020, it will reverse with MU playing at LA Tech and home to Rice.

In 2021, MU will host UAB and travel to North Texas. The next season, it flip flops with MU at UAB and hosting the Mean Green.

Southern Miss returns in 2023 and ’24 along with UTEP.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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