POPLARVILLE – In the 21st century, staying relevant in athletics means staying up to date with facilities.
That is part of the reason why PRCC has decided to renovate its baseball stadium, a complete makeover that will give the Wildcats a new grandstand with more than 400 chair-back seats, a new press box and two new suites.
“If you look around our conference at what some other schools are doing, it makes sense,” said PRCC baseball coach Michael Avalon.
“Our two biggest rivals, Gulf Coast and Jones, have recently completed multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art facilities, and that’s what we’re competing against. It’s just a fact, athletes today are visually-driven, and if you don’t have nice facilities, they’ll go elsewhere.”
The new Wildcat stadium will named Dub Herring Stadium, in honor of the Picayune RV dealer who has long been a major supporter of PRCC.
Herring, known as “Paw-Paw” from the folksy television ads for Paw-Paw’s Camper City, Herring’s dealership, donated much of the funding for the new facility.
“Paw-Paw is a giver and a leader in the community, and he has always tried to give back to the community, especially to Pearl River,” said PRCC athletic director Jeff Long. “We wanted to name the park after him as a way of thanking him for his many years of support for our program.”
In addition to Herring’s financial support, the project got a big boost when Jeff Dungan, owner of Dungan Engineering in Columbia, did the plans and schematics at no charge.
Both of Dungan’s sons played for the Wildcat baseball program and he was instrumental in getting the project from dream to reality.
“Jeff and I met during the summer looking at the layout (of the current facility), and we felt like we wanted to do something to upgrade the facility,” Long said.
“Thanks to him comping the plans for us, we felt like we could fund-raise all the money, and we are very close to meeting our fund-raising goal.”
Once the Wildcats’ 2018 season ends, the current grandstand will be torn down and construction will begin. Long said he hopes to have the new stadium completed by the time fall practice begins in October.
“We’ve already got a great atmosphere for baseball here, and we want to retain some of that atmosphere in a new setting,” said Avalon, who is in his second season as head coach.
“One thing we wanted was to create a little more of a ballpark feel to it. Obviously, we’re going to have 400-plus chair-back seats, but we’re also going to retain a terrace area where people can come in golf carts or bring lawn chairs and sit, like you’re at the park.”