When Mississippi State is playing well, Dudy-Noble Field in Starkville, Mississippi, really gets to rocking. For that matter, even when MSU isn’t playing particularly well, “The Dude” provides an incredible atmosphere.
Beginning in 2018, it’s safe to assume the place is still going to rock, but things are going to look a little different. Actually, they’re going to look a lot different.
Revealed a few years ago, the plans call for myriad improvements to the facility, including a double-tiered grandstand, new entry plazas, updates to the restrooms and concessions areas, a kid’s play area, berm seating, improved lighting, a new video board, and digital ribbon signage, among other things, to the tune of $55 million.
If you haven’t seen the renderings of the finished product, take a look. If you need any proof that college baseball is in a new age in terms of investment, this is solid proof. If the final product looks anything like those images, it’s tough to imagine a better facility in the sport.
Everything about the way the renovations have been handled show that MSU means business as well.
For one, the crews got to work on the project right away. Seemingly minutes after the season ended, what we knew of Dudy-Noble beforehand was a shell of itself, as the structure was reduced to rubble in short order. Then, immediately afterward, the building process got underway. You can even watch the progress of the project on a live feed provided by the university.
For fans, the move has been largely lauded, as it can only serve to help the baseball program continue to be one of the very best in the country, but there has been one sticking point among the Mississippi State faithful. You see, one of the things that made the atmosphere in Starkville so special was the famed Left Field Lounge, an area that housed some of the rowdiest, most hospitable, diehard college baseball fans in the country, and some pretty good food as well.
With the renovation, this area won’t exist as we’ve known it. There will still be a Left Field Lounge, but instead of the temporary rigs that were used for years as makeshift seating platforms, there will now be spaces, as part of the stadium, with seating and standing room- 160 square feet for the back row and 128 square feet for the front row.
It’s always tough to balance tradition and the emotional attachment to something like the Left Field Lounge with maximizing the amenities within a new facility, and in this case, safety, but MSU worked to strike the right balance.
“I understand the importance of the Left Field Lounge to our baseball program tradition,” Mississippi State Athletic Director and former head baseball coach John Cohen told Gene Swindoll of GenesPage.com, the MSU site for 247 Sports. “But during the summer and fall, the Left Field Lounge doesn’t exist. With the new stadium the Left Field Lounge will exist year-round. This facility is going to look impressive all of the time.”
It might take some getting used to, and perhaps things won’t be the same for a certain subset of fans, at least initially, but there’s little doubting what an impressive structure such as this will do for MSU and head coach Andy Cannizaro on the recruiting trail and for bringing good pub to the program from the MSU faithful and neutral observers alike.