Griffin Athletic Complex expected to be ready in time for USC game

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Photo by: Darby Sauls

Director of Athletics Murray Hartzler anticipates that the construction of the Gerald R. Griffin Athletic Complex will be completed in time for the April 11 baseball game against the USC Gamecocks. However, the university will reimburse fans if the stadium is not ready.

Armand Broady, Sports Editor

More progress has been made in the construction of the $11.1 million Gerald R. Griffin Athletic Complex, but there is still work to be done before players, coaches and fans can gather there for live games.

For Francis Marion University Director of Athletics Murray Hartzler, the goal now is to complete Cormell Field at Sparrow Stadium in time for the Wednesday, April 11 game against the Division I baseball champion South Carolina Gamecocks.

“People have expressed confidence to me that the USC game will be OK,” Hartzler said. “They’re working hard for the USC game to happen. There are different contractors coming in at different times, and the process is a lot farther along.”

If the stadium is not ready for the USC game, however, Hartzler said that the university would have to reimburse fans.

Associate Director of Athletics Michael Hawkins also stressed the importance of the April 11 game against the Gamecocks.

“The fields are all kind of tied together,” Hawkins said. “If we play the April 11 game, all the other fields are going to be as ready as possible.”

Hawkins also said that the contractor would have to turn the complex over to the university so that university workers could finish up some aspects of the development.

Much of the focus right now is on the baseball team, but it isn’t the only club getting a new stadium. Both the softball team and the soccer team will play in new stadiums once the complex is complete.

For FMU men’s soccer player and junior accounting major Chuy Cruz, the new stadium will motivate both him and his team as they prepare for their new season in the fall.

“The field is motivation because playing in a better environment, the whole team seems more inspired,” Cruz said. “It’s the fact that we’re getting something new and something to look forward to.”

Cruz said he has seen the soccer field, and that it looks almost complete. Cruz also said that the goal posts are up, the stands look “really nice” and that the grass looks “fairly decent.”

The veteran midfielder said that the stadium lights are up as well, which will be a huge factor for his team because it will allow them to play evening matches, something they haven’t done.

“Our current field has no lights,” Cruz said. “The new field will help us play later in the day in cooler weather.”

The Austin, Texas native also said that a reason the new stadium will benefit the squad is because playing matches in the evening will help the student-athletes better manage their class schedules.

“We didn’t always have time to eat after class,” Cruz said. “With the current field, we were always rushing because a lot of our classes ended at 12 p.m. or 1 p.m., and we’d have to miss class to play (an afternoon match).”

He said that the small time between classes and matches probably negatively affected the execution of his team at times, but that problem should be eliminated with the new stadium.

“With this new field, there will be no excuse for us not to be at 100 percent mentally and physically,” Cruz said.

Cruz said his team is very excited about the stadium, which is sure to help FMU recruit players for the future.

But for athletic department heads Hartzler and Hawkins, student-athletes like Cruz, coaches and fans, patience is again the key as everyone awaits the completion of the new athletic facility.