By JAMES E. CASTO
For The State Journal
HUNTINGTON — In Marshall University's ambitious Vision Campaign for new and improved athletic facilities, the score is now one project completed and four more to go.
Marshall dedicated its new $8 million soccer stadium Aug. 24. Built on the site of the former Veterans Memorial Field House at 26th Street and 5th Avenue, the new Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex has 1,006 seats, a world-class turf field, locker rooms, training facilities and offices for the soccer staff, a press box, rest rooms and concession areas.
A monolithic stone memorial to the community's veterans was saved from the demolished Veterans Memorial Field House and now stands at the entrance to the soccer stadium.
In addition to serving as home field for Marshall soccer, the new stadium will also be used by the Tri-State soccer community as well.
The field at the stadium has been designated the "Hoops Family Field" in recognition of a major financial gift to the project from coal executive Jeffery Hoops and his family. The Hoops foundation also is a major supporter of the new Children's Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital, which has been named in the family's honor.
The soccer stadium is the first project to be completed as part of Marshall's Vision Campaign. Conceived by Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick and co-chaired by former Herd star athletes Mike D'Antoni and Chad Pennington, the fund-raising campaign is seeking $20 million in private dollars as part of a $30 million plan to enhance Herd athletic facilities.
The stadium will be followed by construction of an indoor practice facility, a Sports Medicine Translational Research Center, a 14,000-square foot home for the Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program for academics, and a museum home for the MU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Preliminary construction work is underway for the indoor practice facility, located on 3rd Avenue adjacent to Joan Edwards Stadium. When completed, the facility will include a 100-yard football field, an eight-lane NCAA indoor track suitable for hosting meets, batting cages for both baseball and softball and portable tennis courts for indoor matches.
"It will be an excellent climate-controlled indoor facility for every Thundering Herd athletic team to utilize," Hamrick said. "Upon its completion, the facility will be second to none in the entire country."