While I am very excited to see the progress being made on the Norton Center, I have to wonder about what was called Phase II. In recent conversations with staff members at Ferrum, my understanding is that it is a matter of obtaining funding for the reaming part of the project.
The second phase would include a new press box, and new restrooms, along with upgrades to the stadium facade. Some would say that Phase One has been costly enough, and that the College is still looking for more donations. While there are efforts to secure the remainder of the funding for Phase I, one must not loose sight of the big picture...to provide a top quality athletic facility for athletes, fans, students, and alumni.
As for a new press box, I can personally verify that the need for this is tremendous. I have recently been inside the existing press box, and it is quite antiquated. I am quite certain that this is the same press box that was there when I graduated in 1982, and after my recent visit, it may be best described as a match box.
In there that day, along with myself, were two ESPN announcers, the clock operator, the scoreboard operator, One reporter, the Sports Information Director, Computer operator for stats, backup statistician, two spotters, and the PA announcer. That is twelve people in an area about 8' x 20'...and those may be generous measurements. On the top of the press box are a myriad of other people to include coaches and camera operators. The need for additional space is punctuated by the fact that there are two additional ground level press boxes that house visiting coaches and other broadcasters.
For the most part, these press boxes are made of 2x4's and plywood, and while I am sure they were just what was needed at one time, they have far outlived their usefulness, and there needs to be an upgrade.
The restrooms are as basic and bare bones as you can get. While they do function, they need to be larger, and be more aesthetically pleasing. I will spare detailed descriptions, but take my word for it, they can be much better.
As for the stadium facade, I am not exactly sure what this upgrade would consist of, but I am thinking that the plan was to brick the front of the stadium.
In the original artists renderings, the entire facility would look something like the picture below:
I have no idea what shape the new press box may take, but I do think it is important to develop a building that will be usable for years to come and to not build something that will be outgrown too quickly. I would propose staying with the current trend of Phase I...to build something state of the art to be proud of, and to serve the college for years and years to come. I would also suggest that the press box have ample room for a quality concession, and an area for souvenir sales. Lastly, the press box should have a President's box or suite for the best seat in the stadium.
I have heard talk of lights on the field for night games, and the installation of an artificial surface. These too would be outstanding upgrades, but these do not come without cost.
I am sort of traditional, and like the grass surface. I would not be opposed to an artificial surface, but it would need to be a top grade surface, and would be very expensive. The fact that the Lacrosse programs utilize the field could enhance justification for the artificial surface, but for now, let's get the Norton Center dedicated, and let's work toward the completion of Phase II.
This project has come so far, and I anxiously await the dedication of the Norton Center in May. Ideally I would like to see a seamless transition to Phase II, and I believe that it will take far less time to complete this second phase.
If you want to donate to the Norton Center, either phase, please follow the link below: