- Associated Press - Friday, August 1, 2014

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - The University of Montana broke ground on its new softball stadium as the women’s team prepares to take the field next spring.

Athletic director Kent Haslam says the $1 million stadium will have synthetic turf, allowing the team to play in all kinds of weather. The Grizzly Scholarship Association committed $200,000 to the project and UM students passed a new fee to help pay for the program.

Montana will be the eighth Big Sky Conference school with a women’s softball program. Softball is UM’s 15th sport.

During Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony, members of UM’s track and soccer teams modeled the new softball uniforms.

Practice starts Sept. 2 and the new team will play exhibition games in the fall. UM’s home opener is March 18 against Carroll College, which also added softball for the 2014-15 school year.