Bulldogs ready to bark in new home

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A glimpse into the future of Barton College athletics will, at long last, be visible to the general public Friday night.

After breaking ground 261 days ago, Barton’s new synthetic turf complex will host its first intercollegiate contest Friday night when the second-year Lady Bulldogs’ women’s lacrosse team faces off with Coker College at 6 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the first-year men’s lacrosse program makes its on-campus debut when Barton again faces the Cobras at 2.

Spectators will be allowed to park in any Barton-owned lot without a permit and are encouraged to enter on the south end of the complex near the Kennedy Family Theatre.

For weekend games, a special tailgating lot will be set up off Whitehead Avenue at the Ragan Writing Center. This area will be the only lot where alcoholic beverages are permitted.

Despite ongoing construction along the perimeter of the complex, Barton is now ready to show off the field to the general public. 

“It’s a beautiful facility,” Barton athletic director Todd Wilkinson said in a telephone interview Thursday.” “It’s going to be an exciting two days, and I know our teams are excited to be out there. We’re not all the way there, but we’re far enough along to have a nice event.”

The Bulldogs (1-2), under the direction of head coach Warren Shumate, played their home opener Feb. 2 at Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons and were exceedingly competitive in a 14-13 loss to Lincoln Memorial. Sunday in Baltimore, the program notched its first-ever victory, beating Felician (New Jersey) University 21-5.

In their second season, the Lady Bulldogs, directed by first-year head coach Regan Denham, are off to a 1-1 start, splitting with a pair of Conference Carolinas rivals. Barton downed Erskine 11-8 on the grounds of Barton Outdoor Athletic Complex and lost 7-3 at North Greenville.

Since there is limited bleacher seating available in the south end zone for the opening weekend, fans will be allowed to stand on the sidelines at field level. However, only clear plastic water bottles will be permitted on the sideline.

Wilkinson estimated that the complex, in its current state, can accommodate up to 500 people and remain “in pretty good shape.” Future plans include a concrete padded area on the Wilson Gymnasium side, which will potentially provide an elevated angle of viewing for spectators.

No pets will be allowed and there will no admission charge for the complex’s opening weekend.

“We want everybody to come out and enjoy,” Wilkinson assured.