The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics will break ground on a new state-of-the-art indoor practice facility for the Fighting Illini baseball program. A lead naming gift of $3.0 million has been pledged by Susie Atkins. The facility will be named the Susan and Clint Atkins Baseball Training Center.
This donation, which makes the Illinois baseball building a reality, is the second major Illinois Athletics facility gift from the Atkins Family. The first was the $2.5 million donation for the Atkins Tennis Center, completed in 1991. The Atkins Tennis Center's creation sparked the beginning of the great national and Big Ten success the Illinois tennis programs enjoy today. One of the first in the country to house both indoor and outdoor courts with locker rooms and a pro shop, the facility was voted one of the most outstanding by the USTA in 1992, shortly after its dedication.
The Susan and Clint Atkins Baseball Training Center will be approximately 26,000 square feet and will include a large training space and an adjoining recruiting lounge. The training space encompasses an entire baseball infield with ceiling-mounted nets for hitting and pitching practice. The complex will be adorned with a new grand entrance for Fighting Illini Baseball. The $8 million facility will connect to the current clubhouse and locker rooms and should be completed by 2021.
Susie Atkins grew up with baseball. Listening to games on the radio with her family and helping her father when he coached Little League teams instilled in her the importance of teamwork, the guiding principle of good sportsmanship, and a sense of fair play.
These ideals have stayed with her over the years and are now embodied in a $3 million donation to the University of Illinois baseball program to create the Susan and Clint Atkins Baseball Training Center.