Mike Rice Baseball Complex at Mississippi College to Open in March 2014
November 4, 2013
Mississippi College’s Mike Rice Baseball Field House will contain a locker room, coaches offices, training facilities, equipment storage space, laundry room and much more on the Clinton campus.
The 2,500-square-foot facility is due to be completed in March 2014, and provide a substantial boost to the university’s baseball program as MC athletics makes the transition to NCAA Division II.
The facility is named for Rice, a prominent Alabama businessman, Mississippi College trustee and former baseball standout with the Choctaws. A 1977 MC graduate, Rice once led the Gulf South Conference in home runs, doubles and triples and was among the national collegiate leaders in home runs. Mike was inducted into the MC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
Rice serves as president of Master Boat Builders in Coden, Alabama, a company that’s built fishing vessels, offshore supply vessels and drive support vessels since opening in 1979. The Mississippi College alumnus made a major gift to make the baseball facility a reality at his alma mater.
MC leaders say they appreciate the strong support from athletics gifts and the large donation by Rice to make the project possible. The complex will be located between the home stands at Frierson Field, the home dugout and batting facility.
“This field house will be an attractive, needed and welcomed addition to our athletic facilities,” said Steve Stanford, Mississippi College vice president for administration and government relations.
The timing is superb as the MC team led by Brian Owens begins his 8th year as head baseball coach. The roster includes baseball players from Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Alabama. A former baseball player at Mississippi State and Hinds Community College, Owens joined the Choctaws as pitching coach in 2006.
The Mike Rice Baseball Field House “certainly will add to the excitement as we make preparations for returning to NCAA Division II,” Stanford said in late October.
Next fall, Mississippi College plans to rejoin the Birmingham-based Gulf South Conference and renew Division II rivalries with such GSC teams as Delta State, West Alabama, North Alabama and Valdosta State. Other GSC members include Shorter University in Rome, Georgia, Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and the University of West Florida in Pensacola. Presently, MC is an NCAA Division III member of the Texas-based American Southwest Conference.
The new baseball complex figures to be an enormous asset as Mississippi College seeks to recruit top student-athletes in the region, and around the nation.
Similarly, the opening of a new soccer complex including locker rooms, coaches offices, meeting rooms and more has strengthened the university’s recruitment of outstanding players.
Rice has been a longtime MC supporter and business leader who’s been active in his coastal Alabama community.
The MC alumnus is a member of Spring Hill Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama and member of the Offshore Marine Service Association. He’s married to Deborah P. Rice, a 1975 Mississippi College graduate. Mike also played varsity football for the Choctaws during his undergraduate days on the Clinton campus.
Reports show that Dean and Dean Associates Architects PA of Jackson is serving as the project architect. The builder of the baseball field house is Shane Orman Construction Management/Design of Clinton.
Mississippi College leaders anticipate all external work on the project should be completed before the start of the Choctaws 2014 baseball season.
Photo: Architects' renderings by Dean and Dean Associates