$3 million donation kick-starts funding for new indoor softball facility

Senior+outfielder+Kiana+Sherlund+celebrates+a+double+against+Purdue+on+May+5.+Illinois+competes+against+Notre+Dame+and+North+Carolina+next+weekend+in+Raleigh%2C+N.C.

Jonathan Bonaguro

Senior outfielder Kiana Sherlund celebrates a double against Purdue on May 5. Illinois competes against Notre Dame and North Carolina next weekend in Raleigh, N.C.

By Rachel Spencer, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois softball will enjoy new digs by December 2021, the Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Monday. Plans have moved forward for a state-of-the-art indoor practice facility for the program.

Funding for the project — which will include a full infield and hitting and pitching cages — was made possible by a $3 million lead naming gift from Rex Martin and his daughters, Ashley and Alexis Martin-Close. The indoor training facility will be named after Martin and his late wife, Alice. Previously, the Martin family donated $1 million in 2008 to complete the current softball clubhouse. The total cost for the new facility will come in at $6 million and will also feature an expanded player lounge, increased storage and improved parking.

“This new softball team indoor facility will give the young women on the team the ability to develop their leadership, teamwork and decision-making skills,” Rex Martin said, per Illini Athletics. “These skills will allow them to be successful individuals and strong contributors to society.”

This project marks the fourth naming gift in the past two years, after Demirjian Park, the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center and the Susan and Clint Atkins Baseball Training Center.

Construction of the Rex and Alice A. Martin Softball Training Center is set to begin in late 2020 and will finish in December 2021.

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