Renovation Cost: $7.8 millionProject Completion: March 2000
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| BASEBALL - TOP 10 ATTENDANCE DATES AT ECK STADIUM
| June 9, 2007
|| UC Irvine
| June 10, 2007
|| UC Irvine
| May 25, 1992
|| Oklahoma State
| June 4, 2007
| May 24, 1992
|| Oklahoma State
| May 28, 1999
|| Oral Roberts
| May 23, 1992
|| Arizona State
| May 22, 1992
|| George Washington
| May 27, 1991
| April 20, 1010
|| Kansas State
On Sept. 23, 1999, The Coleman Co. put a $500,000 exclamation point on Wichita State University's Project FutureShox, a $7.8 million effort to make Eck Stadium-Home of Tyler Field the premier collegiate baseball facility in the nation.
Plans to significantly upgrade Eck Stadium-Home of Tyler field were first announced on Jan. 28, 1998, and were taken to another level with the leadership of Gene Stephenson, the winningest collegiate baseball coach since 1978.
Several major contributors stepped forward on the front end of the project, and on Sept. 23, The Coleman Co. accentuated a project that had Wichita State on its way to having the best collegiate baseball facility in the country.
"We can't just sit by and maintain the facility we have...we have to work to get better," Stephenson said. "There's tremendous competition for student-athletes today. With the support of our fans and a top-notch baseball facility, we will have an even better opportunity to recruit the kind of athletes we need to compete with any program in the country.
"We have everything from 'The Coleman Hill' for fans who want to sit on a blanket and cookout, to room for fans who want to sit in the best climate available. We have everything for every fan."
Coleman's gift benefits specifically the fans who enjoy watching Shocker baseball from the outfield hill, a popular place for general admission seating for students which also provides opportunities for group ticket sales. The gift provided for the addition of two pavilions and terraces to spruce up the hill.
The Coleman gift resulted in improvements on the field, including installation of new artificial turf.
"The Coleman Co. is very pleased to assist Wichita State and its championship baseball program with these stadium and field enhancements," said company president Bill Phillips at the announcement. "This community and the university have always been extremely supportive of Coleman and its people. This is one way we can give back to the city, WSU and Shocker baseball."
The money for the project came from five primary sources- private contributions, All-American Club memberships, luxury skybox suites, the sale of personal seat licenses, and the sale of $3.5 million in bonds.
"WSU extends its thanks and appreciation to those dedicated and loyal fans who have stepped up to the plate to provide the additional donations to permit this project to proceed," said WSU President Don Beggs.
Seven prominent members of the community stepped forward with major lead gifts, specifically $500,000 from H.D. Hap Bledsoe; $500,000 from the
Virginia Farah Foundation, whose president is WSU graduate Eric Namee; $500,000 from longtime baseball supporter Rusty Eck; $225,000 from Southwestern Bell, $500,000 from The Coleman Co., $100,000 from Gerald Michaud and $100,000 from Willard Walpole.
Work by contractor Martin K. Eby Construction Co. was completed on time for WSU's March 28, game against California. While there were adjustments in the project, there were no significant changes.
The crux of the project included the removal of all center bleacher seating and the press box, which was installed in 1984, to be replaced with a permanent steel and concrete grandstand structure, designed by Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey and Associates, P.A., of Wichita.
Field box seating increased along with new chair back seating, bringing the total seating to 7,851 from 5,665. A new two-level press box, which includes 18 skyboxes and a new All-American Club room was added. Increased restrooms and concession stands are incorporated into the new structure to better serve the public.
Here is a look at the additional features of the renovation:
A prominent entrance into the new grandstand facility is a signature piece to the stadium. The Bledsoe Plaza combines an art exhibition with a walk of fame highlighting the accomplishments of Shocker student-athletes and boosters who made extraordinary contributions to WSU baseball history.
Other stadium improvements included the addition of 2,569 box seats and 1,218 chairback seats in a new concrete grandstand, replacing the existing steel and aluminum grandstand sections. Included in the design of the entire grandstand section are 33-inch deep rows to accommodate chairback seating.
In addition, there are additional public rest rooms and concession areas, and improvements of the south and west exterior facade.
The upper levels provide private skybox suites, the Virginia H. Farah All-American Club with exterior seating, and a new state-of-the-art press box that will accommodate the needs of regional and national media.
The high-tech Southwestern Bell Press Box includes restrooms and a service support space, all capable of being accessed by dual elevators. Amenities in the skyboxes also include viewing the game from a climate-controlled environment and access to food services.
The new Virginia H. Farah All-American Club accommodates nearly 200 fans, and features reserved box seats for up to 96 fans on a veranda level immediately in front of the club.
Membership in the Virginia H. Farah All-American Club includes an excellent view of the game from the climate-controlled interior, complimentary food and beverage each game, priority parking and club admission for two fans per membership.
The Coleman Hill includes two pavilions and terraces that spruce up the hill. The pavilions feature two covered, split-level, hardwood decks with storage for chairs. One pavilion includes a fireplace. The pavilions provide general seating for groups of fans and may be reserved for special events.
Fans in the outfield bleachers at Eck Stadium-Home
of Tyler Field will enjoy their baseball and picnics in style from the
2000 season and beyond. The Coleman Co.'s half million-dollar gift to
WSU enhances the Shockers' world-class collegiate baseball facilities.
"Coleman Hill is one of the most unique facilities in college baseball," WSU Director of Athletics Jim Schaus said.
"This is definitely one of the finest facilities in the country. This is a further indication of how Coleman and the community have been a light and an example. This is a gift that will touch the entire community of baseball, and the people in Wichita. We thank Coleman from the bottom of our hearts for helping this dream come alive. Thank you for being a beacon of light for this community."
The pavilions feature two covered, split-level, hardwood decks with storage for chairs. One pavilion includes a fireplace. The pavilions provide general seating for groups of fans and may be reserved for special events. The Coleman Co. also provided chairs, and other products to be used in the pavilions.
The improvements complement the grass seating areas that remain beyond the outfield fence, which include the addition of rock terracing.
"The Coleman Co. is very pleased to assist Wichita State and its championship baseball program with these stadium and field enhancements," said Bill Phillips, president. "This community and the university have always been extremely supportive of Coleman and its people. This is one way we can give back to the city, WSU and Shocker baseball.
"We are excited about Coleman Hill. We think it preserves the long-standing tradition and ambience of 'the hill,' while adding more facility and versatility for fans who enjoy watching ball games from that perspective. It's also a perfect fit for Coleman and the many products we manufacture here in Wichita that fans routinely use for picnics and tailgating at games."
Stephenson added, "This stadium will offer something for everybody. It doesn't matter whether you are a general admission ticket purchaser, or a season ticket holder at the highest level of donor, this stadium is going to be something that's really special for everybody.
With Coleman's gift and Coleman's involvement, this adds a unique and special environment. I don't know of any other place in the country that will offer the fan this kind of unique opportunity. We've all worked so hard and so long to fulfill a dream. This is so special to us, and I want to say a heart-felt thank you."
The Coleman Co. also provided chairs, and other products to be used in the pavilions. The improvements complement the grass seating areas with the use of rock terracing.
The Coleman gift also resulted in improvements on the field, including installation of new artificial turf and warning track.
WSU and Southwestern Bell on Feb. 4, 1999, announced a 10-year, $225,000 sponsorship agreement that names Southwestern Bell as the exclusive telecommunications sponsor of WSU Shocker baseball, creating a wide range of marketing, signage and advertising opportunities for the state's largest and oldest provider of telecommunications services.
It is also the first major corporate sponsorship of its kind for WSU, whose baseball program has emerged as one of the finest in the country.
"Southwestern Bell is pleased to be named the exclusive telecommunications sponsor of Wichita State University Shocker baseball," said Shawn McKenzie, Southwestern Bell's state president-Kansas. "With this sponsorship, we're building on Southwestern Bell's solid commitment to our neighbors in and around the Wichita area. We're especially proud to be associated with such an outstanding athletic program. From the players to the coaches and administrators, it a program with a proud tradition."
The Southwestern Bell Press Box is equipped with capabilities that accommodate high-capacity data transmission, facsimile transmission and multiple lines for telephones or modems. There is also a communication system installed from the press box to dugouts and dugouts to bullpens.
In addition, each game's official baseballs bear the Southwestern Bell logo. To generate fan excitement, the company sponsors the Southwestern Bell Foul Ball program, in which fans can keep all foul balls as Shocker souvenirs.
"It's through the support of our loyal fans and ommunity-minded organizations like Southwestern Bell that we've been able to build such an enviable following of boosters," said Gene Stephenson, WSU baseball coach.
Although Eck Stadium-Home of Tyler Field has been the site of many successful NCAA regional tournaments, and has been cited for its fan support, a Jan. 1998, article in Baseball America did not include Wichita State in its ranking of the top 15 college baseball stadiums in the country. In 2003 Eck Stadium-Home of Tyler Field ranked sixth in a "Baseball America" poll.
Stephenson then went to work on the most recent upgrades to Eck Stadium-Home of Tyler Field, a process that he was not all to unfamiliar.
When he arrived at Wichita State after his hiring in the spring of 1977, he found nothing. No team, no field, no equipment, no tradition, not even a baseball.
The program had been dormant for seven years, despite a beginning in 1899, and did not have any history of success when it did play.
Today, WSU's program is one of the best and most recognizable in the country and Stephenson is respected by his peers as one of the top coaches in Division I college baseball. WSU has become a consistent NCAA regional site, and has played host to the event in nine of the 10 years of the 1990s.
Wichita State reached the pinnacle of college baseball in 1989, winning the College World Series championship with a 5-3 win against Texas in the title game, but the seed for the school's first-ever NCAA team championship had been planted for many years.
Stephenson arrived in Wichita after having spent five years as an assistant to Enos Semore in a very successful program at the University of Oklahoma. As recruiting coordinator and hitting instructor, Stephenson helped guide the Sooners to five Big Eight Championships and five CWS appearances from 1972-77.
Very few people understood Stephenson's decision to come to Wichita State, but from the beginning, Stephenson made it clear he intended to challenge for a national championship.
Progress toward that goal was made in his very first season, 1978, when the Shockers posted a 43-30-1 record. Late in that season, Wichita State played its first on-campus home game. The Shockers opened the season playing at McAdams Field - a city ballpark - but finished the season at Shocker Field, site of what is now Eck Stadium- Home of Tyler Field.
Evolution of Eck Stadium-Home of Tyler Field (1978-2009)
1978 Shocker Field
Field excavation - Dirt removal
Asphalt/Paving - Astroturf purchase, installation
1981-83 Shocker Field
Bleacher unit (322 seats)
1984-85 Eck Stadium (Home of Shocker Field)
Clubhouse/Offices - Concessions Area
3,044 Grandstand seats
Press box - Public Restrooms
1988: Eck Stadium (Home of Tyler Field)
Astroturf replacement - Rubberized warning track
292 Box seats
$4 Million endowment to baseball
Wood fencing - Color-coordinated painting of stadium
1990-92: Eck Stadium (Home of Tyler Field and Michaud Pavilion)
New clubhouse with offices
Joe Carter Locker Room - Indoor cages
401 Box seats - 1,470 Grandstand seats
Additional Public restrooms - Concessions areas
Resurface warning track - Largest on-campus scoreboard
1994-95: Eck Stadium (Home of Tyler Field)
Expanded Press Box
Fill in grandstand "pies"
1999-2000: Eck Stadium (Home of Tyler Field)
New Grandstand - Press Box, All-America Club - 18 Skyboxes
Coleman Outfield Hill (Pavilions and Landscaping)
New Infield Turf and Warning Track - Utility Shed
2006: Eck Stadium (Home of Tyler Field)
A new 20-foot by 13-foot video board with instant replay capabilities, as well as a new message center and new LED line score outputs
A JUGS radar gun interface allows for display of the speed of every pitch
The scoreboard that is mounted on the Michaud Pavilion upgraded to LED line scores
The new board replaced the 13-year old board, which was constructed in 1992
2009: Eck Stadium (Home of Tyler Field)
GameDay Grass™ by AstroTurf® was installed at Eck Stadium-Home of Tyler Field in the fall of 2009
It was also installed in the Bombardier Learjet Indoor Practice Facility
29,000 square foot Bombardier Learjet Indoor Practice Facility was completed in December 2009
It includes a full-size GameDay Grass™ infield and retractable batting cages