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FWtCT discusses the plans for Dudy Noble's future

With a few days now to digest all of the information on the plans for the future of Dudy Noble, the staff of For Whom the Cowbell Tolls share their thoughts on the future plans for the Carnegie Hall of college baseball.

Mississippi State University |

1. What were your initial thoughts/impressions when you saw the design?

When I first saw the design plan, I couldn't believe my eyes. That's going to be a COLLEGE baseball stadium? Wow! - ReidACoker

I think I had the same, almost unanimous reaction of "holy sh*t, that looks awesome." Hard to imagine the design making a better first impression. - James Carskadon

Some combination of "Holy eff!," "Jesus," and "What the balls?" So probably something like "Holy Jesus Balls!" - Prediction? Pain

My initial reaction was a little angry. I falsely thought the Left Field Lofts were replacing the LFL. I choose to blame this on viewing the images on my phone. In all seriousness, I was blown away. How could you not be? - MattVTyler

I literally sat slack-jawed for 5 seconds, unable to speak. - MSUHistory

Am I looking at this right? Where are the trucks/crazy dudes in Left Field going to sit? After looking closer, I realized it was outstanding. -- tbradenbishop

I could not believe what I saw when I looked at the designs. Mississippi State set the bar in the 1980s when it came to college baseball facilities, and even as recently as 2013, Dudy Noble Field was ranked the No. 1 college baseball venue by Stadium Journey. This, however, is amazing. - justinrsutton

I was blown away. We'd been hearing things like "shock and awe" for this project, but the designs are beyond my wildest dreams. Just a tremendous job. We definitely put the baseball world on notice that we intend to continue being elite. The new Dudy Noble will be nicer than most minor league parks, including AutoZone and Trustmark. - War Machine Dawg

It seems cliche a bit to say I was knocked off my feet, but I truly was. Scott Stricklin upped my expectations as an MSU fan a bit when he unveiled plans for what is about to be our new north endzone at Davis Wade, but even with that I was expecting good, not great out of the design. What I saw, though, was unlike anything I could have expected. Several people told me I'd be blown away when I saw it, and I was. - cristilmethod

2. Was it anywhere near what you expected to come out of the process?

No, this was much more expansive and sweeping. In many ways, this is a complete overall of Dudy Noble, but it does not seem to lose too much of the character that made the stadium the special place it has been. - justinrsutton

Honestly, I've only been to a handful of MSU baseball (games). I've just never been really into the scene. So, my expectations weren't really high. Nonetheless, that doesn't take anything away from the fact this place will look unprecedented. - tbradenbishop

In some ways, this was what I expected. There's no way the athletic department could tear down Dudy Noble without putting a top-notch facility in its place. So something impressive was expected, but I was surprised by just how impressive it was. - James Carskadon

Much more. The LF Lofts and RF entrance are amazing plusses. - MSU History

It was so much more than I expected. I knew to do this right, we'd have to demo Dudy Noble's current grandstand and start over. It was nice during it's time, but the sightline problems were completely unfixable. Everyone involved in this project really did a tremendous job to deliver us a first class park. - War Machine Dawg

Yes and no. Like James said, I fully expected us to try and blow the doors off the competition if we were going to do this, but I still wasn't expecting the plans to be what they are. - MattVTyler

I'm not sure I had any specific expectations. Sure, I figured they'd upgrade the seats and update some amenities. But I had no clue that something of this magnitude was in the works. - Prediction? Pain

I only expected the bleachers to be taken out and some chair back seats to be added but this far exceeds anybody's expectations. - ReidACoker

It was far beyond what I expected. Over the summer I would see debates about whether or not it was going to be a complete rebuild versus a modification of the current structure and in my mind I just kept thinking "we'll go with modifications." Boy, was I wrong, and am I happy to be able to admit as much right now. - cristilmethod

3. Hit on a few of the features that you are excited about the most.

The field-circling concourse is an especially great idea. I also really dig the berms. I just think it gives off a nice vibe in the stadium. I'm not sure yet about how the Left Field Lofts will fit in with the game day atmosphere, but they look pretty damn cool. But frankly, I'm excited about everything. The place looks like a baseball-themed amusement park crossed with a modern mixed-use urban development. - Prediction? Pain

This is a simple thing, but I really, really like the open entrance of sorts by the road. It resembles one at TD Ameritrade in Omaha, which is a good thing to emulate. The grassy areas down each foul line are nice as well. I'm glad we're going "up" with the grandstand instead of extending it all the way down each line. People need a place they can bring coolers and grills if they don't have access to a spot in the LFL. The Left Field Lofts are perhaps the most interesting aspect of the plans. With Dudy-Noble's proximity to Davis-Wade and The Hump, these should be great revenue producers. I can't think of many colleges that offer quality accommodations overlooking a major athletic facility. We're one of the few schools who can be this audacious when it comes to a baseball facility. - MattVTyler

Being able to see the game wherever you are. I hate losing outs while waiting on a snowcone or hopping from one lounge to another. - MSU History

It isn't drawing much buzz, but the open-air grandstand concourse will be a great improvement to the game experience. It was always annoying to miss an inning standing underneath the grandstand to get a hotdog. Just about every newly-built stadium (Oregon's P.K. Park comes to mind) has something similar. It's a minor thing that improves the game, especially for families that might make multiple concession stand trips a game. - James Carskadon

The condos in left. That's just crazy, man. I mean, I could never afford it in my wildest dreams but the idea is incredible. The circle entrance is also a very nice touch. - tbradenbishop

The design looks like it borrows from some of the best features of a variety of stadiums. I went to Dick Howser Stadium at Florida State once, and I loved the pavilion area at the entrance. Many of the newer minor league stadiums have made it where the field of play can be seen from the concourse, and that is included. However, what excites me the most is the fact that someone could live at Dudy Noble. I remember being fascinated with the idea of hotel rooms in SkyDome, but this takes it to an almost obscene level. - justinrsutton

The ring of honor in right field to honor old teams and past accomplishments is very cool. This baseball team has a lot of tradition and it should be showcased in every way possible. I also love the lofts or apartments going up in left field that people can live in. Nothing like watching a college baseball game off your balcony. They say you will be able to walk all the way around the stadium and still see the game, something that doesn't exist as of now. I think that was much needed. - ReidACoker

I'm extremely excited that it will be an open concourse. No more having to miss the game to go get a bottle of water or a sausage dog. I absolutely love the incorporation of a Walk of Fame entry area. I wish we'd include an actual Hall of Fame somewhere to honor our legends, but that's a relatively minor thing. The Bulldog Lofts was an outstanding idea. Full time apartments with a balcony to watch baseball? Yes please!!! And it is a built-in, year round revenue generator. The one big question I have and that we haven't gotten a direct answer too is whether or not there's a student area. One would hope we had the foresight to include that. - War Machine Dawg

Overall, I was so impressed that the new design featured pretty much everything that had been discussed in the fan-base when this process started.  There are new berm areas for those who just want to walk up with a cooler and lawn chair and sit.  There is a full view concourse like a minor league stadium, which is unbelievable.  Most of all, though, I think the Left Field Lofts are what pushed it over the edge for me.  Having something like that in left field is exactly the first-of-its-kind concept that for me pushed this project from fantastic to out of this world.  I am concerned when I hear that they will lease the lofts rather than sell them, because I figure it would be much more difficult to talk someone with that kind of money into renting, not owning, something like that.  But nevertheless, having them out there will be a great addition to the atmosphere at Dudy Noble. - cristilmethod

4. Do you have any reservations or concerns about the Left Field Lounge's modernization?

Yes. What we are doing is awesome and will be loved after a few years, but the funky charm of the Lounge is going to disappear. There is a chance some of the charismatic old-timers who help make MSU baseball what it is may be priced out. Someone needs to write a coffee table type book on the LFL as it currently is before the changes are made. The Left Field Lofts are awesome and a brilliant feature, but I worry they may overshadow the Lounge itself. The increased accessibility to the Lounge will be a big plus, as will the increased safety of it. - MattVTyler

Everyone knew it was coming. I've seen kids fall and get hurt out there, and so I understand the modernization. I worry about the cost and size of the new areas, though. They look much smaller than some rigs today, and I hope we don't price out some of our longtime fans. We need those to stay packed with local, loyal fans out there - not some bigshot in Atlanta that comes twice a year. - MSU History

Obviously, it will be a little sad to see the trailers go, but that was only a matter of time/lawsuits. The new setup looks like it will still make the LFL a unique place to watch a game. The only thing I'm on the fence about is the condos behind left field. I think something like that would make sense for an urban stadium, but it seems out of place to put condos in the middle of a bunch of college athletic facilities. To me it really doesn't fit in with that part of campus. - James Carskadon

Yeah, it's scary modern... so, I feel it's going to hit a few nerves with long-time tailgaters. But it's kinda like high school championships being moved from Jackson to Starkville/Oxford - After the first year, people will begin to say, "Why didn't we ever do this before now?" - tbradenbishop

Honestly, I don't. As much as people love it, I am fine with seeing changes to Left Field Lounge. The situation as it currently stands really hindered too much future development at Dudy Noble. I think the changes will keep the spirit of the Left Field Lounge, and over time, people will not long for what once stood there. - justinrsutton

There will undoubtedly be a little less charm to the place. But, like James, I understand the reason behind the change. Plus, it seems like the new layout will be more functional for the bulk of fans while allowing the essence of the Lounge to continue. - Prediction? Pain

As far as the left field lounge, it sounds like it will be upgraded to look nicer but people will still have the freedom to customize their own spots. They are really hitting a homerun by upgrading Dudy Noble Field while not taking away the tradition and history of it that MSU fans love. - ReidACoker

I don't have any concerns with the plans for Left Field Lounge so long as what we've been shown is actually what is followed.  I think it will be important to make these permanent spots somewhat unique; at the least, we don't need to have 86 uniform box areas out there.  That, to me, completely kills Left Field Lounge.  But if we can sort of modify each to be just a little different, so that when you look out there from the grandstands it still looks somewhat like 86 unique stands out there, then the job has been done and done well.  I think what has been proposed is absolutely the best case scenario for everyone involved.  Safety is improved, and the uniqueness of LFL is kept in tact, even if not 100%.  Now it's important to make sure the majority of the people that have occupied those spots for 20+ years continue to do so, because they are what make the Lounge special. - cristilmethod

No problem at all with the modernization of the Lounge. The current setup had do be improved for safety reasons. And the upgraded spots aren't cookie cutter. There will be plenty of ways to customize your LFL spot and keep the spontaneous feel it has now. - War Machine Dawg

5. With a price tag of $40 million and a fundraising goal of $20 million, do you have concerns on MSU reaching that fundraising goal, or that concessions will have to be made?

The expected $40 million that it will take to build this stadium will be no easy goal to reach. But MSU has one of the smartest minds in the business in Scott Stricklin, so there's no doubt in my mind they will find a way. - ReidACoker

Yeah, that's a lot of money. But I almost think that the concept is so well conceived and so well presented that the school and alumni will find a way to make it work without any substantial concessions. - Prediction? Pain

I don't see money being any problem. Unlike some previous administrations, I don't think Stricklin would make an announcement about this type of project without already having most of the money in hand or at least a very, very good idea of where it will come from. If he did and the project gets scrapped or severely scaled back, he would be, and should be, quickly fired. Plus, we've got SEC Network money coming in, and I'd guess some of that money will be funneled to this project. We're about to be a $100 million dollar a year athletic department, so money should be no object for us. - War Machine Dawg

I think the renderings will help with fundraising. Now that people actually what the AD's vision is, it should help boosters get onboard. I don't think it can be built for $40million, though. Concessions will have to be made somewhere. Drawings are nice, but they're often a little too grandiose. - MattVTyler

We'll be fine. I already donated $100. Excited to see my "this cupholder was bought with money donated by the Flying M" plaque in the new stadium - MSU History

I was actually surprised the cost estimate wasn't higher than $40 million. Judging by the speed with which money appeared for the new football facility and the Davis Wade expansion, I think the $20 million will materialize before too long. Someone with deep enough pockets will likely speed up the process. As long as the new stadium is financed primarily with private donations, I'm not too concerned with the fundraising goal or total price tag. - James Carskadon

Not sure. I think a few modifications will be made but State has always had good donors. With the hype in the last few days I would be extremely shocked if all or most of this didn't come to fruition. - tbradenbishop

Rarely are stadiums built without concessions being made. All one has to do is look at MGM Park at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, and it becomes obvious that even the best of seemingly solid plans have to change because of price tags some of the time. That said, I can't imagine Scott Stricklin would announce such a major overhaul without believing he can bring in the money and make 90% or more of this happen within the budget. - justinrsutton

I agree with Matt: Renderings help tremendously with fundraising.  People are much more willing to give when you unveil something awesome that's visual like State did on Tuesday.  What I think is important is that every MSU fan that wants to see this happen gives to the fundraising, so that we can make sure what we saw on Tuesday happens and is built like we want it to be.  Sometimes fans have a tendency to sit back and expect only the big boys to cover the check, but us normal folk can give $100, $250 or even less and it makes a huge difference in working towards that $20 million goal.  I think it's certainly attainable; now we just need to go make it happen - cristilmethod

6. Any further thoughts on the design

I know some people will gripe about spending that much money on baseball because it is not football. I'm far from an architect or engineer, but I don't see where anything such as another 15,000-20,000 seats are coming to Davis Wade Stadium. I think this recent upgrade will be the last of the major changes to Davis Wade as it currently stands. The amount of money it would take to transform Davis Wade into a Bryant-Denny or Tiger Stadium would, I assume, be very cost prohibitive.

Mississippi State led the way in baseball 30 years ago, and it seems poised to do so again. I would think that some changes to basketball will be the next long-term change we see. Looking beyond Starkville, I am quite curious if this causes an "arms race" in the SEC, a conference that has spent an insane amount of money on baseball over the last few years. My guess is that it does, as I do not see how a stadium like this does not play out as a major recruiting advantage for Mississippi State. Players coming to Mississippi State will get to play in a venue that feels like a Double A or Triple A ballpark, and that will be a huge selling point as many players probably realize they will never play at that level. - justinrsutton

When will they install the retractable dome? - tbradenbishop

I'm wondering what the dimensions of the new park would be. I'm guessing roughly the same, but I could be wrong. I'd like to see dimensions that play a little more fair to hitters with the dead bats being used now. I can't say enough how much I love the Bulldog Lofts. Absolute stroke of genius to include those. In the arms race that's facility, especially baseball facility, improvements we just went nuclear on the competition. This stadium should give us the edge for a long, long time to come. - War Machine Dawg

The only concern I have is LFL. I would love to keep LFL as-is today, but I know that can't happen. I just hope it's still relatively spacious. Other than that, I have no complaints. Berms are great, Hall of Fame area will be awesome, and I love that we kept the same location. - MSU History

In the end, possible changes that may upset people don't matter. Everyone involved with our baseball program, from coaches to players to fans, is going to get the facility we have all dreamed about, one other college programs will stare at in envy when they one day arrive to play here. - MattVTyler

Holy Jesus Balls. - Prediction? Pain

I'm just excited to see Scott Stricklin and company being aggressive and pursuing the absolute best that Mississippi State can achieve.  For years under Templeton we toiled under the notion that we should be happy with good, not great, and that showed in how expansions and other forward progress was pursued.  That changed with the Ninja, and Scott I think has done a great job at pushing the ball forward.  With Davis Wade now nearly complete and these beautiful plans being unveiled for Dudy Noble, I'd say the future is bright for MSU fans.  The only thing I have to say now is "Make this happen."  We've seen the plans, so now we can't settle for anything less than what we were shown on Tuesday.  For the fans, for the players, and for the future of Mississippi State baseball. - cristilmethod