“We’re hoping to play some games on it this spring,” Ed Schrader, president of Brenau University, said about the softball field on a 16.8 acre tract, which will become the university’s “home field” for athletics.
Schrader emphasized the “hope” part of his sentence, noting weather delays have been common during the past several months.
The softball field is phase I of a two-phase project that will provide fields for the school’s softball, soccer and track and field teams.
Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, which operates the 100-plus-year-old textile mill, donated the property.
The university anticipates about a $5 million investment in the athletic complex. That assumes a $1 million value on the land and $2 million for each of the two phases of development.
The land is just east of the plant and between Jesse Jewell Parkway and the Norfolk Southern Railroad right of way near the intersection of the parkway and Myrtle Street.
“It has taken us longer than we thought it was going to take,” Schrader said about the construction. Most of the delay is chalked up to heavy rains.
The development of athletic facilities in the New Holland area includes a gift from former Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Doug Ivester and his wife, Kay, both of whom grew up in the New Holland mill community.
They contributed funding to complete the first stage of the complex, which has been named “Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Park” in honor of Kay’s late father, who was born and raised in New Holland and went to the school located at the site of the softball field.
Phase II, which Schrader said he hopes gets started in the fall, will be on “a big flat area” and will be a soccer field and track — if the latter will fit in the space.
“We’ll see how much room we have,” he said.
“It’s going to be a beautiful, big green area,” Schrader said. “The ultimate goal is to link our playing field through a walking path to Myrtle Terraces.”
He explained the university plans to provide recreation space for senior citizens as a community service.
Phase II work depends upon the weather and the funding through the university’s Forever Gold capital fundraising campaign.
The second phase is expected to take about a year “if everything worked right,” Schrader said.