Golden Tigers ‘Break Ground’ for First Phase of $4.4 Million Athletics Park
With the Golden Tigers softball team winding down the 2015 season, players joined athletics from soccer, track and field, swimming and other sports in an unofficial ground-breaking ceremony for Brenau University’s new athletics park that is now under construction in mill town New Holland located about two miles from the historic campus.
However, with heavy equipment operating in the background to level the playing field for what will be the home game park for the Golden Tigers softball team next season and construction supervisors pouring over site plans with university facilities personnel, there was not a lot of ceremony involved. Athletes taking a break from final examinations and some of their coaches clambered aboard a piece of idle earth-moving equipment to pose for pictures, then queued up for chilidogs, hamburgers and onion rings from the Varsity food truck that the university arranged to have stop by. Thus ended the ceremony.
“During finals week, with several teams still working their way toward playoff season, we wanted simply to get as many of our athletes as possible together one more time before the end of the academic year to show our appreciation for all they do for Brenau University,” said Brenau University President Ed Schrader. “No speeches. Just hotdogs.”
The site will be developed as the “home field” location for Golden Tigers intercollegiate teams: softball, soccer, and track and field. However, only the softball portion of the park is under construction now. The rest depends on successful fundraising in the university’s $40 million ForeverGold capital campaign or some alternate financing in the future.
South Carolina-based Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, Inc., donated a 16.8-acre tract of land for the development of a multipurpose athletics park at the site of the historic New Holland textile mill village.
The development of facilities for intercollegiate athletics complex in the New Holland area includes a gift from former Coca-Cola Chair and CEO Doug Ivester and his wife, Kay, both of whom grew up in the New Holland mill community. They contributed funding to complete the first stage of the complex, which has been named “Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Park” – in honor of Kay’s late father. The property includes the former site of the school where the Ivesters met in third grade and fittingly was the locale of the field for the textile mill village’s near-legendary baseball team.
Initial development on the site includes a softball field, parking, bleachers, field house and other improvements. Additional facilities at the park that will be built as additional financing occurs include a field for soccer and other field sports, a running track and common-use areas, like walking and jogging paths and others available for public use and special programs.
The land, which lies along Jesse Jewell Parkway (U.S. 129 and Georgia Highway 369) is adjacent to the Milliken & Company mill in the unincorporated Hall County community. The area recently commenced massive redevelopment, including the opening of the largest Kroger grocery store in Georgia.
The Brenau site currently is open land, a terraced tract located roughly between the well-trafficked thoroughfare and the Norfolk Southern Railroad right of way near the intersection of Jesse Jewell Parkway and Myrtle Street.