Atkins baseball center receives a $350 thousand gift

by Mariah Guzman

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — On Thursday morning The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced a gift of $350 thousand directed towards the building of the Susan and Clint Atkins Baseball Training Center from Philip and Heidi Sarnecki.

“Heidi, myself and our family are excited to continue our contributions to the Univ of Illinois and the work Josh and his team are doing,” Philip Sarnekci, an Illinois Gies College of Business and LAS alum, told “It’s always great when we can bless others with some of the blessings we’ve been given.  We love the work Coach Hartleb and his staff are doing for Illini baseball and hope this gift helps Coach and the University accomplish their ultimate baseball goals.  My 13-year old son Blake is particularly excited as he hopes to play for the Illini baseball team some day!”

The indoor facility is valued at $8 Million and is set to be completed by the Spring of 2022. It will be about 26,000 square feet, encompassing an entire baseball infield — allowing the team to practice year-round — along with ceiling-mounted with nets for hitting and pitching practice. The facility will also include locker rooms, a training center, and more supporting spaces.

courtesy of
Atkins Baseball Center interior perspective

“I’m extremely excited about the gift from the Sarnecki family,” head coach Dan Harlteb told “Their generosity will allow us to install a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose netting system which will allow us to utilize the indoor space in a very organized and functional manner. Philip and Heidi have been tremendous supporters of Illinois Athletics and we are very grateful for their gift to Illinois Baseball.”

Illinois originally announced the ground-breaking of the indoor practice facility back in November of 2018, after a $3 Million pledge by Susan Atkins.

Training center announcement to the Illinois baseball team in 2018

Following a donation of $500 thousand, in 2014, to name the men’s basketball locker room at State Farm Center, this is the third significant donation to Illinois Athletics from the Sarnecki family.

Photo of the Sarnecki family, courtesy of
Photo of the Sarnecki family, courtesy of

“We are incredibly grateful to Philip and Heidi for once again investing in our overall vision for Fighting Illini Athletics,” Director of Athletics Josh Whitman told “Philip paid tribute to his father with a meaningful gift at State Farm and now is making the dream of an indoor facility a reality for our baseball student-athletes. This contribution, which allows us to build a state-of-the-art complex for these young men, will give us a great competitive edge moving forward.”

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