After a year of being under construction, the long-awaited renovations of Hancock Stadium have been finished. Now that the stadium has officially opened its doors for the Redbirds fall season, officials are looking forward to their next upgrade.
Next on the agenda is a new indoor practice facility.
ISU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Larry Lyons looks forward to improving the university’s athletic resources and hopes of adding on more for the department.
Lyons has good reason for wanting to build a new practice facility: the current 200-meter track is not themed for conference meets because of the lack of lanes for runners, while a 300-meter track would be the more appropriately sized track, he explained.
The new addition would simultaneously benefit two bases, which includes the track program as well as serving to other sports such as football and basketball. The running surface in the Horton Fieldhouse is only good for just that – athletes are not currently able to do any training on it.
Horton Fieldhouse is currently used by track and field, softball and baseball, but its surface leaves more to be desired for the sports of running and football.
Plans for the facility include a multi-purpose room for all different sports to use. Talk of a 100-yard artificial surface field to be used for soccer and football is also up for debate. The plan involves all ISU sports being able to use the indoor facility to meet their needs.
Cages for the baseball, softball and golf teams to use would also be included in the proposed arena — the cages would drop down from the roof in order to let several teams practice at once and would make it easy to separate them any way that was needed.
If granted, a new indoor practice arena would most likely be built on the existing practice field for the football team. The fieldhouse would be torn down and a new west side to the stadium would be built there as a result, along with more suites and club seating.
Though the proposed facility has become necessary, Lyons knows this is a long-term plan.
There’s a lot to be done before that takes place, he said.
“Funding is also an issue, and the whole thing is a fairly lengthy process,” Lyons added.
As the next few months unfold, he hopes to begin developing the project and getting it in the works for the future.
“It is all conceptual at this point,” he said.
Plans within the athletic department in regards to the stadium and new arenas have been in talks for as long as eight years ago.
There are more plans for Hancock Stadium itself in terms of more upgrades yet to come, but the athletic department remains focused on their priorities one at a time.
“This process began back in 2005 with what was called the Redbird Renaissance, which had plans for the football stadium and baseball fields to be a part of that,” Lyons said.
The athletic department looks forward to the potential changes and upgrades the future will bring for the university and its athletes.
“It’s just a natural progression now that the football stadium is behind us,” Lyons said.