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Grand Rapids, Mich. - Cornerstone University broke ground today on its $8 million dollar one-of-its-kind baseball stadium and new residence hall combination.
Construction on the new baseball complex will begin April 1 with the first pitch being thrown out in the fall of 2012. The residence hall portion will be ready for move in by Fall 2013.
"We need a new dorm and a baseball field so it will save us a footprint on campus," said Dr. Joe Stowell, president of Cornerstone University, during chapel Nov. 2 held prior to the outdoor groundbreaking. "We needed both so we combined the two and solved the dorm issue."
The new stadium will have 500 stadium seats, artificial turf, lighting, a concession stand, locker rooms for both men's baseball and women's softball, a training center, weight room, indoor pitching machines and indoor batting cages and a state of the art press box.
Above the training center will be a 100 bed residence hall needed to accommodate increasing enrollment.
Jack and Mary DeWitt of Holland, Mich., provided a significant gift two months ago that will fully fund the baseball facility and provide seed money for a new chapel and fine arts center.
"Without God's goodness and grace we wouldn't be here," said Jack DeWitt, owner of Request Foods. "We believe every Christian college in West Michigan should have a chapel building. Glory be to God."
After the chapel service a ceremonial ground breaking took place on the field where the stadium will be located. A starting line-up wore CU jerseys and hard hats as they put their shovels in the ground.
The DeWitts signed a home plate that will be used for the official base once the stadium is complete.
Head Baseball Coach, David Mitroff, and his team of assistants were introduced. His coaching staff includes: Ron Engle, senior assistant coach of Wyoming, Mich.; Chuck Lowitski, assistant coach of Chicago, Ill., and volunteer assistant coach Doug Smith of Sparta, Mich.
"We're very excited to bring baseball back to CU along with a brand new facility for the program," said Dave Grube, athletic director for Cornerstone University. "Our goal is to provide a first class program that will honor God and represent our university with strong character and class."
The DeWitts were presented with a framed home plate signed by the Cornerstone president and other staff members and a shovel with a bat handle.
"I'm so excited that God provided this baseball team," said Mark Fila, a sophomore, who attended Cornerstone thinking he would have to give up his dream of playing college ball. "I love the Lord and I love baseball. I couldn't stop crying when I found out how God provided for something I love."
It's more than a baseball program, Stowell said.
"It's an avenue to share the gospel in a significant way," he said.
There are plans to host high school tournaments, summer leagues, summer camps and youth programs. And even hopes of bringing the 14-year-old World Series to the campus.
"God has been so good to us," said Stowell. "We are now able to move our vision forward."