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McGill column: Suites next project for Hamrick at Marshall

HUNTINGTON - Mike Hamrick has a suite tooth.  

The Marshall athletic director, who is entering his fourth year on the job, has been at the forefront - along with Mike D'Antoni and Chad Pennington - of an aggressive fundraising and facilities campaign that will result in a new soccer stadium and indoor practice facility being completed in the next 12 to 24 months.

Joan C. Edwards Stadium is also getting an addition.

The Thundering Herd's 38,109-seat football venue will have eight 1,000-square foot suites added for the 2013 season, barring any unforeseen obstacles.

The project will cost an eyelash over $2 million, which will be funded by the suite-holders and private donations.

"The architects are drawing up plans right now and as soon as the season is over we'll get started," Hamrick said Tuesday afternoon from his office inside the Shewey Building.

Financial commitments for the suites have been made through 2017. The first-class suites will be built on the top level of the press box to the left and right of the existing structure. That level contains the coaches' boxes, television booth, visiting radio booth and visiting athletic director's box, etc.  

Restrooms will be added to the top level, as well as a third elevator that will service all levels of the existing press box.

The suites can function as eight individual units or four joint suites. Occupants will have the option to open and close the windows at the front of the suites, a feature the cozy existing private boxes lack.

The project is the latest in a long list of athletic facility upgrades since Hamrick's arrival, which include new scoreboards at Edwards Stadium, the state-of-the-art soccer complex and the impressive indoor facility that will be built to the east of the football stadium.

That building will include a full-length football field, indoor track, student-athlete academic center and sports medicine research center.

The Henderson Center has received enhancements that will improve fans' gameday experience, specifically in terms of sound and comfort.

Hamrick personally tested the new $405,000 sound system after the project was completed this summer.

"I walked to the top of all four corners of the building and I could hear our new sound system like I was sitting next to the person talking," he said.

"That is critical to our fans enjoying basketball games, along with a better air system."

The new air ventilation system will help maintain a comfortable temperature in the general admission bleacher seating, he said.

Hamrick says Marshall is over halfway to its $20 million fundraising goal for the "Vision" campaign.

"Fundraising is every day," he said Tuesday. "It's every day.

I've already had three appointments today and I have one tonight. People are excited and are responding."

The Fieldhouse lot has been cleared for the soccer complex and bids will go out on Oct. 1. Construction should be swift, with a target date of completion at August 2013.

Bids will go out on the indoor practice facility in January and construction could begin as soon as February or March. The IPF should be completed and fully functional by August 2014.

By then, who knows what project Hamrick could be ready to bite into? If it's not his suite tooth, he always seems to be chewing on something.

Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.


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