The project, due to get underway in early November, will include construction of a new partially-covered grandstand featuring chair-backed seating, along with building a new press box and a new concession stand.
The project will be funded by a combination of private gifts and student fees designated and approved for improvements to NSU Athletics facilities. No state or university operating dollars will be used, Burke said.
Fundraising is halfway to the goal, with additional support being pursued. The renovated facility will be completed during the 2013 season before Northwestern hosts the Southland Conference Tournament next May.
Chair back seats require a $1,000 donation that can be set up for payment via bank draft for up to three years, a plan that would result in a weekly charge of under seven dollars.
Players from the 2013 Lady Demon squad attended the ceremony, including junior shortstop Tara McKenney, an All-Southland Conference performer.
The renovations will provide 436 seats, including 160 prime chair back locations behind home plate. The new facility will include a roof partially covering the grandstand area, which will cascade away from the backstop providing much-enhanced permanent seat locations that were not available with the old grandstand that was located nearly 20 feet away from the backstop.
The construction will also provide an enlarged press box for media and game management, able to accommodate radio and television crews with a capacity more than triple the old press box seating.
The initiative represents the most significant project in the five-decade history of the NSU softball program. It is in addition to $350,000 in other improvements to the facility in the past four years, with installations of new Outfield Club seating, a refurbished club house and locker room, a new ticket booth, new fencing and entrance, a new outfield fence, and a new backstop and netting.