Ann Rhoads, co-namesake of University of Alabama softball stadium, has died

Mark Hughes Cobb
The Tuscaloosa News

Ann Rhoads, whose name graces the University of Alabama's softball stadium along with that of her husband, has died, according to a social media post from Patrick Murphy, the head softball coach.

The Rhoads family has supported hundreds of UA athletes through scholarships and gifts. John Rhoads, who passed away in 2001, was an accountant at Ernst & Ernst, and a posthumous inductee into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame.

Crimson Tide softball coach Patrick Murphy shared on Twitter an RIP message, saying "Her love and generosity toward @UofAlabama⁩ will be her well-deserved legacy. We will miss her greatly at The Rhoads House."

Murphy expanded on his thoughts in an email message: “She meant the world to us. The year after we expanded our clubhouse and built the hitting facility thanks to her generosity, it was 2012 and we won the national championship.

"When we gave her a championship ring, we told her the proof was obviously in the results. One year after she built the building, we won the national championship. It was a huge addition to our program.

University of Alabama donor Ann Rhoads listens to the Crimson Standard Initiative press conference Thursday, August 16, 2018. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

"There’s not many people like her left in the world. She was very generous, loved the school and was always a presence around our program. All of us will miss her greatly," Murphy wrote.

The Rhoads family had long been fans and patrons of UA's athletics programs, said Mal Moore, former director of athletics, during a 2011 re-dedication for John and Ann Rhoads Stadium expansions.

"Ann Rhoads is a dear friend to the university and a great supporter of Alabama athletics," Moore said at that ceremony. "I would like to thank her for all she has done to help the Crimson Tide remain one of the nation's elite programs."

John and Ann Rhoads Stadium capacity among largest softball stadiums

John and Ann Rhoads Stadium, at 321 Peter Bryce Blvd., on the northeast corner of the campus, is considered the largest university-affiliated softball stadium, with official capacity at 3,940.

The $2.2 million facility was opened in 2000. Before the creation of Rhoads Stadium, Tide softball teams played on fields in Tuscaloosa's Sokol and Bowers parks.

During the 2009 season, right-field tier seating was added, along with a standing-room concourse featuring tables and rink rails. From 2010-2011, further expansion brought in a clubhouse, new locker and training rooms, a team video room, player's lounge, and lobby.

From 2019 to 2020, Rhoads Stadium underwent another $3 million worth of renovations, including improvements to the press box and clubhouse, and additions of more concessions sites and restrooms.

Also included were enhancements to improve pedestrian flow from the parking lot, canopies over entry gates and ticket windows. two premium seat boxes, and a locker room specifically for umpires.

The always-competitive teams regularly draw NCAA-record-setting crowds, filling the Rhoads Stadium beyond official capacity, with a record of 4,015 for a 2017 game against Auburn. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, UA has set this year's capacity at 30 percent, or about 1,180.

The Crimson Tide's at-home Rhoads Stadium record is 316 wins versus just 50 losses, for an .863 record.

UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne said he appreciated the support from Ann Rhoads and her family.

“The Rhoads family means so much to Alabama Athletics, and we extend our deepest condolences," Byrne said. "Ann had a heart of gold and loved Alabama. She was an incredible supporter, and we are forever grateful for her.”

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