FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Florence Darlington Technical College will soon have a brand new athletic complex with a baseball and softball field.
It's something the college hasn't had since it began in 1964.
The complex will be on the Southern Institute for Manufacturing and Technology, right up the hill from the FDTC campus. College officials said the funding is not totally set up yet, so the timeline for completing the fields is still fluid, but everyone on campus is excited dirt is moving.
Preston McDonald, the athletic director and head baseball coach, is looking forward to the positive impact a complex will have on his athletes and recruiting. "
You bring guys on campus, or girls for the softball team, and you want to be able to show them their own facility on campus and we haven't been able to do that." McDonald said. "So I think this will level the playing field when it comes to recruiting and us be able to get those top-notch guys that are choosing to go to those other national powers across the country."
McDonald added the support of the FDTC administration is helpful as well.
"They kind of started the ball rolling a couple years ago and it's becoming a reality," he said. "It's real exciting and will be great for students, faculty and staff and administration. So, they can come right out of their classroom and be able to watch some games."
The school board commission passed a $40 million budget for the project on Tuesday night. It includes first time projects on the campus.
"Our new automotive and HVAC technology center, which we started last summer, that's the first phase, and the next phase will be the new administration building on the main campus, and of course all this growth out here on the SIMT campus and with the new ball field complex," said Clay Williams, public relations director for FDTC.
Williams noted all the growth that FDTC has seen since the college began, starting with less than 200 students. Today, the Florence campus has more than 6,000 and even more stretching across six different sites in the Pee Dee.
Funding for a college is expensive, Williams said, but the school does receive some money from the state, with even more coming in from student tuition dollars.
Fortunately, Williams said FDTC is not cutting back, but instead growing.
"What we've managed to do in all these 50 years is stay on the cutting edge of high technology because that's where the jobs and where economic development is going," h e said.