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WICHITA, Kan. – Wichita State to Undertake $7.3 Million Phase 1 Renovation of Wilkins Stadium, Home of Shocker Softball, Made Possible in Part Through Substantial $1.1 Million Gift from Supporter and Fan longtime shocker Linda Parke and a generous $100,000 gift from Jeanie and Ricky Brotherton.
Of the Parke estate, a total of $500,000 will be distributed equally between scholarships supporting math majors and men’s basketball athletes. Parke designated the remainder to support the Wichita State capital area of greatest need. The focus on softball made the Wilkins Stadium renovation an easy choice.
“It’s incredible the impact an individual gift can have, and Linda’s generosity will make a real difference to our student-athletes and these programs at Wichita State,” said Elizabeth King, president and CEO, WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement . “Her trust in the university to use her gift well is so significant and we are thrilled to be able to use her for these improvements to Wilkins Stadium.”
“Over the past 18 months, Wichita State University has strategically invested significant resources into our softball program, with the intention of maximizing immediate support and complimenting the competitive growth our coaches and student-athletes have worked so hard to build.” Wichita State Director of Athletics said. Kevin Saal. “From renewed engagements with Coach Bredbenner and his staff, to new batting cages, lights, future home dugout and artificial turf surface (to be installed after the 2023 season), we have invested over two million dollars in our program of softball.”
The Wilkins Stadium masterplan project will provide Wichita State student-athletes and softball coaches with state-of-the-art training and playing facilities. The renovations include a 12,471-square-foot complex that includes locker rooms, coaches’ locker rooms, classrooms, team room, athletic training room, personnel offices, break room, work room, referees’ locker rooms and laundry facilities. It will also include a 14,400-square-foot indoor practice facility that will feature a full infield and batting cages along with storage areas and observation areas for coaches. The turf will also be installed in the outfield and cautionary rink, foul territory and apron areas at Wilkins Stadium in June of 2023.
Fan amenities include an enclosed atrium with a large front entrance, outdoor seating, a new scoreboard with videoboard, expanded seating areas, suite and press room, ticket office, concession stand, additional restrooms, merchandise, fan networks, and external suites. There will be a variety of seating options for 1,500 fans, including seatback seating, bleacher seating, and outfield seating, as well as a new parking lot entrance attached to Wilkins Stadium.
The stadium refurbishment will also include a field technology area, media spaces, radio and TV booths, video board control room and a multi-use suite that can be used for multiple types of groups including recruiting events, events teams, private companies, community members and other large groups.
The one-story team compound will be constructed in the southwest corner of Wilkins Stadium with the indoor practice facility constructed just north of the team compound.
“The investment the University is making in Wilkins Stadium and the softball program is phenomenal,” said head softball coach Kristi Bredbenner. “Wichita State athletic fans are one of the foundations of this athletic department and support outside of cheers in the stands will give our student-athletes the opportunity to play and train in a world-class facility. In recent years there has been a movement in support of women’s sports. We are thrilled and grateful that a lifelong Shocker fan like Linda Parke is providing us with a leadership gift in support of Phase I of the project. We appreciate the relationship we have built with Ricky and Jeanie Brotherton and we appreciate the investments they continue to make in the Shocker Softball program.The growth of Shocker Softball is a testament to all the former and current student-athletes who have worked hard to leave the program better than they found it.Not I look forward to each of them arriving to see the fruits of their labor and for our fans to fill the stadium to cheer on this programme.”
Bredbenner has been the softball coach at Wichita State for the past 11 seasons and has built the program into one of the best programs in the Midwest, consistently competing for NCAA regional bids. His record during that span is 320-252-1, including a 75-31-1 mark in his last two seasons, which could be considered the best two seasons in program history. Lui became Wichita State’s all-time winningest head coach in 2022, when she recorded her 314th career win. Since joining the American Athletic Conference, Bredbenner’s teams are 56-27-1 in the league.
Under his leadership, Wichita State won three regular season championships, two conference tournament titles and appeared in four of six NCAA regionals in school history. The first two All-Americans in program history also came under Bredbenner’s coaching. Wichita State also made the Top 25 for the first time ever in 2021 and finished the season in the final NFCA poll.
Forty-one student-athletes earned all-conference honors and 16 NFCA honors in all regions during Bredbenner’s tenure. Bredbenner and his staff were named the American Athletic Conference Coaching Staff of the Year in the record-breaking 2021 season.
“Since July of 2022, and in parallel with our recent investments, Wichita State University and Shocker Athletics have engaged in a comprehensive master facility planning process for Wilkins Stadium,” Saal said. “These efforts provide a definitive blueprint through which we intend to build a consistent, league-wide softball program positioned to maximize student-athlete development, recruitment, and retention. In the coming months, we will remain focused on acquiring the resources necessary to fuel our bold and progressive plans for Shocker Softball.”
Minimum estimates for the Wilkins Stadium master plan project are currently approximately $17.5 million. GLMV Architecture and Structures designers are completing design concepts and planning construction in phases.
Phase 1 of the project would include the softball team facility and indoor practice facility at $7.3 million, Phase 2 would include the lobby/press box/ticketing and seating areas at 1.9 million dollars, Phase 3 would include refurbishment of existing facilities / seating / fan experience elements at $3.5 million and Phase 4 would include outdoor area / event pavilions and flooring at $700,000 .
Construction estimates place the total at $13.4 million, with an additional $3.4 million in project cost subsidies and $750,000 for video card to bring the total project to $17.5 million.
For more information about donating to the Wilkins Stadium project and supporting the Wichita State softball program, contact the WSU Development Office at 316.978.7276.