Part Three in a Series on the Construction and Renovation of Reese Smith Field

December 27, 2005 · MT Media Relations
The underlying issue with all building projects is money, something not lost on Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. He says the foundation for the Reese Smith Field expansion has been laid, but the project will not be just about baseball.

"The City of Murfreesboro and Mayor Tommy Bragg have made an initial investment in the project, and we have two sizeable donations pledged from prominent alumni which are really helping us get this project off the ground," Massaro said. "But we want to include aspects in this project that tie in Floyd Stadium and make an entrance-way or front door to all of our athletic facilities."

The design should include a plaza area which will house benches and tables for everyone's enjoyment any day of the year, as well as restrooms for use during both baseball and football games. The plaza would run down the leftfield line where the parking lot currently exists and tie into the football stadium on the east side, near the current student entrance to the football stadium.

But to make this and many other amenities a major part of the project, the Middle Tennessee Athletic Department will be announcing the first-ever capital campaign for the athletic department.

The new facility also would also open the possibilities for hosting the Sun Belt Championships, as well as NCAA Regionals. The City of Murfreesboro also has a stake in keeping the TSSAA's Spring Fling, and a new addition would only strengthen the list of high-quality facilities available to high school athletes in the city and Rutherford County.

"We're going to have a facility the TSSAA can call home and never have to move the Spring Fling again," head coach Steve Peterson said. "It will be one of the best in the nation and should help our recruiting.

"But the biggest thing is for the fans. We've always had great fan support from the local community and this would be a thank you for all of those supporters."

Peterson says the facility has been on his mind for many years, but the move to the Sun Belt Conference five years ago speeded up the process because of the great competition and facilities in the league.

"When we changed conferences [in 2000-01], we moved from a good baseball league [the OVC] to a league ranked in the Top 10 every year," Peterson said. "And it's a great credit to our staff and players that we made that transition and won a championship in the first year, a time when the Sun Belt sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament.

"But in making the move, our facility doesn't meet the standards of our league, especially with seven of the nine schools making improvements and major upgrades in their facilities since 2000. We want to host conference tournament and NCAA Regionals at Reese Smith Field. They would be great for the University and for the community, pumping dollars into the local economy in much the same way all of the TSSAA events do."

One of the aspects in the building of the stadium is equipping the facility for television, giving Middle Tennessee State University and the Blue Raider baseball program regional and national coverage like never before. Television coverage of college baseball has grown exponentially in the last five years, especially regional coverage in the Southeast.

"No doubt the new facility will help our program and our university with exposure to many people who do not know about Middle Tennessee," Peterson said. "The College World Series has become a national event with TV exposure, and now almost every game from regionals and super regionals are on ESPN."

The project originated many years ago with Reese Smith and John Stanford and lives on today through Steve Peterson. But at the heart of the facility lies all of those loyal Middle Tennessee baseball supporters, the ones seen every year at the Grand Slam Fish Fry, the Groundhog Day Luncheon, and the Chuck Taylor Golf Tournament. They are the reason the program has made such huge strides over the years in facilities, with the erection of the current grandstands and chairback seating as well as the Stephen B. Smith Clubhouse and Indoor Training Facility.

It is those same fans and many Middle Tennessee sports fans who will be counted on to make this dream of Peterson's become a reality in the next two years. It's always an exciting time at Reese Smith Field, but now there's even more to look forward to. Making the dream become reality is the light at the end of the rainbow.

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