July 9, 2012

Improvements ahead for the North Georgia Athletic Complex

DAHLONEGA, GA - Thanks to the support of a few generous donors, North Georgia College & State University will break ground this summer on a new field house for its baseball and softball teams, phase one of a multi-year effort to upgrade and renovate the North Georgia Athletic Complex. 

The vision is to create a world-class experience for players and fans of the North Georgia athletic teams by building much-needed facilities to support baseball, softball, soccer, and tennis.

In addition to the field house, plans call for a baseball and softball hitting facility with a viewing area, a field house and public restrooms for men’s and women’s soccer, a tennis center, and resurfacing all athletic fields.  These improvements are estimated to cost $8 million when all elements are completed. 

“This project is more than an effort to improve athletics facilities. It is about the continued development of the university as a regional academic and athletic power and its ability to continue to attract the best and brightest students,” states President Bonita C. Jacobs. “I am convinced these improvements will move North Georgia forward.”

In recent years, the Bob Stein Baseball Stadium and the Haines & Carolyn Hill Softball Stadium have undergone extensive renovation and upgrades to bring them up to standards for the Peach Belt Conference.  While the university has first-rate stadiums, the athletic complex is lacking in basic infrastructure such as public bathrooms, dressing and training facilities, and a concessions area.

“Athletics is essential to help the university build community to support all of our endeavors,” said Lindsay Reeves, director of athletics.  “We have excellent student-athletes who compete at the highest levels and need facilities to match this.”

The university has put significant resources over the years into these facilities and athletics in general. 

The challenge is further compounded by the smaller size of the student population of North Georgia, when compared with other Peach Belt Conference schools, and limits to which the university can charge an athletic fee.  With one of the highest fee rates in the University System of Georgia, North Georgia still falls short in athletics funding due to its size.

“The two essential elements for a winning athletic program are scholarships for student-athletes and facilities.  A student-athlete visiting the campus on a recruiting trip considers both elements as they make the important decision as to where to attend university and compete athletically,” Reeves said. 

The need for additional facilities is apparent at each practice and on game days.

“Student-athletes currently dress out in their cars in the parking lot,” Baseball Coach Tom Cantrell said.  “Taping and treatments cannot be performed on site, thus creating logistical challenges during practice and games.”

Since joining the NCAA and the Peach Belt Conference five years ago, North Georgia has been athletically competitive in the conference. North Georgia’s teams continue to qualify for the conference tournaments and post season play.  This year, both the women’s soccer and men’s tennis teams competed in the NCAA regional tournaments and both were nationally ranked.  Also, the softball team participated in the NCAA World Series for three consecutive years.

"I am extremely proud of our student-athletes who continually excel both on the field and in the classroom,” Reeves said. “These facility projects will afford our student athletes the opportunity to have locker rooms, receive athletic training treatment and prepare for game day at the site of their venues."

Phase 2 of the project will include the baseball/softball hitting facility with a viewing area, a field house and public restrooms for men’s and women’s soccer, and resurfacing all athletic fields.  The final phase will include the construction of a tennis center.

As a separate project, a convocation center is on the master plan of the university to support academic programs, convocations and graduations, and other university and community uses, including serving as the home of North Georgia basketball.  More information about this project will be released as plans are able to proceed.

If you are interested in supporting this important project or need additional information, contact Lindsay Reeves at 706-864-1625 or lreeves@northgeorgia.edu.