February 23, 2013 : By Drew Menard
Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. threw the ceremonial first pitch in the Flames’ new baseball stadium on Saturday, as the crowd of more than 2,500 erupted in cheers, christening the facility and supporting the home team in its first game in its new home.
“This is one of those unbelievable days in Liberty’s history,” said Neal Askew, Liberty’s executive vice president. “We are excited about the new stadium, the guys have done a great job in the construction.”
The players certainly added to the excitement of the day, claiming a 4-1 win over the Nittany Lions of Penn State University. Though Liberty’s offense got off to a slow start and Penn State garnered the first run in the opening inning, the Flames’ bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Danny Grauer found the gap for a double, sending home Bryan Aanderud for Liberty’s first score in the new stadium. This sparked a Liberty comeback that culminated in the seventh, when the Flames scored three times. Read the full story at www.LibertyFlames.com. The Flames continue the series against the Nittany Lions with a doubleheader beginning at noon on Sunday.
It is “unbelievable” how quickly the construction has progressed, Askew said, adding just five days ago the stadium did not appear ready to host a game.
Construction began at the beginning of last summer. The new stadium more than doubles the seating capacity of the previous facility, with 2,500 chairback seats. When complete, it will feature two suites, a clubroom, state-of-the-art press area, a playground for children, picnic area, and a 3,000-square-foot patio with a fire pit. For the players, the most significant change is not the upgraded locker rooms and dugouts, it is the playing surface. The field is now Astro Turf, which requires less maintenance and will mean fewer rain delays.
Though the stadium is fully operational, construction is scheduled to be completed this summer. It is part of Liberty’s major campus transformation, which includes significant upgrades to the university’s academic and athletic facilities. It is the final piece of the Flames athletic complex, which also features the newly renovated Osborne Stadium, the soccer/track & field complex, and the recently upgraded Williams Football Stadium.