Spuhler Field, Field House renovations set in motion to break ground in late spring

Phase I renovations of Spuhler Field are slated to begin in May (Photo courtesy of Fairfax Campus Advisory Board).
Phase I renovations of Spuhler Field are slated to begin in May (Photo courtesy of Fairfax Campus Advisory Board).

The West Campus Connector is not the only construction that will be taking place on George Mason University’s West Campus in the coming months. According to a Fairfax Campus advisory group meeting on Dec. 12, 2012, facility projects to renovate Spuhler Field, the baseball stadium, and the Field House, the intercollegiate sports complex, are set to begin in late spring.

Spuhler Field has been a topic of discussion within the athletic department for some time now and has become a prime candidate for an upgrade in recent years. Each part of the proposal will be constructed in phases based on the number of donations received from external donors.

Phase I of the project, which is set to begin in May, deals with the installment

New dugouts will be the first project of the Phase I renovations of Spuhler Field (Photo courtesy of Fairfax Advisory Board).

of new dugouts, grandstand seating, press box, a roof canopy and netting system and a restroom building. The overall expected cost for the first phase adds up to just under $4 million.

According to Thomas Calhoun, the vice president of Facilities at Mason, the initial plans for the field renovation have been put on hold due to a need to raise more private funds. However, through fundraised money and student fees, the athletic department and facilities are exploring options to begin certain projects of Phase I with the current funds.

“We have some monies in hand and we feel we can start Phase I of the project, which is the dugouts,” said Mason Director of Athletics Tom O’Connor. “Right now, we are about 99 percent sure that we can start with the dugouts and in my mind that was the most important, that we take care of the student-athletes first.” 

The baseball stadium has been a priority for O’Connor over the past few years and the plans have now fallen into place to make the appropriate changes. Nearly $ 1 million went towards restoring the baseball field. According to O’Connor, it is one of the best fields in the country. 

In addition to the Spuhler Field renovations, the Field House will undergo a number of changes over the coming year. After becoming the headquarters of intercollegiate sports last summer, the complex has been in need of alterations to the weight room, training room, infield and both male and female locker rooms.

“[The Field House renovation] was a pet project of mine because it services all of our athletes,” O’Connor said.

The Field House will undergo new signage and promotional designs for the building's exterior (Photo courtesy of Fairfax Campus Advisory Board).

On the exterior of the building, new promotional signage will be added to the roof and walls, with an array of green and gold text and logos. A north entrance canopy will be installed and a promenade parallel to George Mason Stadium will feature a scenic walkway with shrubbery, banners and identity graphics.

Another proposal that had originally been laid out but has since been redacted was the plans for a new basketball practice facility and academic center. The plans were scrapped after Mason men’s basketball coach Paul Hewitt advised against it, citing the Recreation and Athletic Complex as a suitable practice facility.

“We wouldn’t have done it if coach said he didn’t like it, but we would have been into a big fundraising campaign and that would have pushed the baseball aside,” O’Connor said. “In my mind, baseball was a big priority and basketball was going really well and it’s all a matter of needs instead of wants.”

In an interview with GoMason.com, Hewitt mentioned his approval of the basketball facilities and the privacy, accessibility and availability that the RAC provides. Since it was completed in 2009, basketball coaches including Georgetown’s John Thompson III, Marquette’s Buzz Williams and Minnesota’s Tubby Smith, while scrimmaging Mason, have raved about the RAC wishing they had something similar on their own campuses.

At this time, the athletic department is as aggressive as ever in expanding their facilities and providing comfortable and safe environments for the current student-athletes as well as attracting potential recruits.

“When recruits come here, they take a picture in their mind, so when they’re driving home they remember two things; the people that they met and they remember the buildings that they are going to be in,” O’Connor said. 

Updates for the respective facilities will be provided by Connect2Mason as they are made available. 

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