WINCHESTER – Shenandoah University (SU) is ramping up its Bridgeforth Field renovations with a plan to convert the baseball field into a full-fledged baseball stadium.
Mitch Moore, senior vice president of SU, told the Winchester Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Monday night that the stadium will include the baseball field, press box, bleachers and more – “the full kit and the caboodle. “.
Moore compared Bridgeforth’s proposed conversion to what James Madison University (JMU) did with his football field. Originally built in 1975 with a capacity of approximately 5,200 people, the University of Harrisonburg completed a $ 90 million renovation of the facility from 2009 to 2011 that increased its capacity to 24,877 and added a larger dashboard, 17 fan suites, a club lounge and increased stadium lighting.
JMU’s football facility is called Bridgeforth Stadium. However, it doesn’t seem likely that Winchester will also have a Bridgeforth Stadium, as Moore said SU is exploring the possibility of selling the naming rights to the facility. He told the Parks and Rec board that local members of the Bridgeforth family were “thrilled” at the prospect.
Bridgeforth Field is located in Jim Barnett Park. It can accommodate around 1,200 fans and has served as a home diamond for Handley High School, Shenandoah University, Valley Baseball League‘s Winchester Royals and the Winchester Baseball league.
In March 2020, the League formalized an agreement with the city of Winchester that grants university management rights to Bridgeforth and Rotary baseball diamonds in Jim Barnett Park for 40 years. In return, SU agreed to renovate both fields with a pair or other baseball fields in the park, the Bodie Grim and Henkel Harris fields.
Work on Bodie Grim and Henkel Harris began last fall and was completed earlier this year. Bodie Grim is now home to the Handley High School baseball team and Henkel Harris is home to the Handley softball team.
Bridgeforth and Rotary will become the designated grounds for the League’s baseball and softball teams. These two diamonds will also be used by the Youth League of Winchester Baseball and the Valley League Baseball.
Bridgeforth and Rotary renovations began on August 1, when the League officially took over management of the fields. Moore said Monday that “enormous progress” had been made and he hopes the first improvements, not counting the conversion of Bridgeforth into a stadium, will be completed by December 1.
Bodie Grim Field upgrades included new bleachers and batting cages, a new playing surface, extended dugout canoes, a press area, concrete slabs, a new dashboard and fence, as well as a catwalk on the connecting to Bridgeforth. Henkel Harris Field got an improved playing surface, updated batting cage, pitching warm-up pens and a new scoreboard.
The renovations by Bodie Grim and Henkel Harris cost SU nearly $ 600,000, Moore said, while the work initially envisioned for Bridgeforth and Rotary will cost the school around $ 4 million. Moore did not provide any cost estimate to turn Bridgeforth Field into a baseball stadium.
The university paid the first $ 350,000 for the Bodie Grim and Henkel Harris projects, and will now retain 100% of Bridgeforth and Rotary concession sales until it recovers $ 250,000 in project costs. Subsequently, the university will give 35% of all Bridgeforth and Rotary concession sales to the city to compensate for the revenue that Jim Barnett Park will lose by sacrificing its ability to lease these two fields to private users.
In addition to the improvements to the field, the League also pledged to pay $ 25,000 to establish a sports program for young people from economically disadvantaged families in Winchester.