mssu-overallMissouri Southern State University is another step closer to building a baseball stadium on campus, following the announcement today that approximately half the funds needed have been raised.

At an estimated cost of $2.5 million, the new stadium will be built to the east of Fred G. Hughes Stadium (football) and adjacent to the MSSU Softball Complex. The recently announced north end zone facility will house the locker room and the offices for the baseball program, and all of these facilities are located in the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex.

“Joplin already has some great baseball facilities and this is going to add to them,” said athletic director Jared Bruggeman. “It is going to be one of the premier ballparks of its size in the MIAA and it will be a great benefit for the student-athletes as well as to the community because we want to share it in order to bring tournaments and events to the region.”

The facility will feature a state-of-the-art synthetic turf field to address weather and maintenance issues, regulation lighting, home dugout with a bathroom, batting cages, bullpens, a viewing deck, concessions and fan seating for up to 600. This stadium will enable MSSU to host NCAA regional and national events.

Fundraising efforts have been underway for some time. Weeks before the tornado struck Joplin in 2011, the Robert W. Plaster Foundation pledged two substantial seven-figure gifts to the Missouri Southern Foundation, with a portion of one of the gifts to be used to help fund the construction of a baseball field on campus.

“The campaign took a backseat as the community healed,” said JoAnn Graffam, executive director of the Foundation, “but the time came to reinvigorate the effort and we’re excited to be moving forward again. We’re thankful to the many donors that already have supported this project.”

According to Graffam, lead donors include the Robert W. Plaster Foundation; Snyder Construction Company; Hiland Dairy; Joplin Building Material; the friends and family of Dr. Patrick Thompson, who named the press box in his memory; Southwest Missouri Bank, sponsor of the outfield viewing deck; an anonymous donor who named the batting cage in the memory of former hitting coach Mike Hagedorn; and Larry Hickey, a longtime supporter of MSSU baseball. Many friends and alumni also have given contributions to the campaign, including a significant gift from an anonymous donor.

The MSSU Lions Baseball team ended the 2013 season as the MIAA Champs with with a 34-22 record and an appearance in the NCAA Regional Championships.

For information and to make contributions to the campaign contact the Missouri Southern Foundation at (417) 625-9396.