Hertzel’s Thoughts: A Proposal For Naming The WVU Coliseum

Hertzel’s Thoughts: A Proposal For Naming The WVU Coliseum

MORGANTOWN — If you will pardon me for this summer intrusion, I wish to get your attention for a moment.

On Thursday morning, West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons announced a five-year, $100-million project to improve athletic facilities at the school, some of which have been sorely needed for some time, some of which are simply a cherry atop an ice cream sundae that already has been smothered in hot fudge and piled high with whipped cream.

Near the end of the press conference, though, Lyons was asked an intriguing question that has been discussed over and over in bars, on talk shows and surely in the money meetings that go on behind the locked doors at the Coliseum.

The question was whether the athletic department planned to sell the naming rights to the Coliseum, cashing in on one of the most valuable assets the school has.

To the surprise of no one, Lyons admitted that this is a very real “possibility in the future” as a mean of creating “a revenue stream” for the athletic department.

It is difficult to find fault with such thinking in an era when donors have become far more important than recruits, for the building boom that the university’s athletic department has undergone over the last decade and that continues to snowball demands donation money for facility that attract recruits.

In this day and age things have turned backwards. In the past, your winning percentage in college athletics seemed to dictate the flow of donations.

Today it’s the flow of donations that dictates your winning percentage, or so the thinking goes.

But back to selling naming rights to the Coliseum, which is a valuable item.

The trend has been to name the stadium after someone whose financial contributions to the university and/or city have made so much possible, and no one can really argue that such philanthropy deserves such a reward.

They followed suit in Morgantown, of course, when they honored Milan Puskar by changing the name of Mountaineer Field to Milan Puskar Stadium, keeping the Mountaineer connection by offering up the suggestion that it really is Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Throughout the Big 12 there has been much along this line, the likes of the oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens having his name attached to the Oklahoma State Stadium, the newspaper publisher and generous donor Amon G. Carter having his name on the the TCU Stadium and businessman Drayton McLane having the new Baylor Stadium named in his honor.

There is really no objection to WVU finding such a person to honor by naming the Coliseum in such a way, but let us hope it would not be some corporate connection, either corporate giant such as the Oscar Meyer Coliseum or even some local business such as Mario’s Beer and Basketball Palace.

Those who have done it the right way are such schools as Texas, which honors Darrell K. Royal, their Hall of Fame football coach, by putting his name on their stadium or Kansas State, which actually has named its stadium after the still active coach Bill Snyder, who took college football’s worst program and turned it into a top contender and did it the right way.

Now, no, anyone who knows me knows I am not pushing for the Coliseum to be called the Gale Catlett Coliseum and, while it would be fun to see Bob Huggins’ name attached to it, that really isn’t the way to go either.

The truth is, there is only one person’s whose name should go on the Coliseum, and as he has recently just celebrated his 80th birthday we would dare suggest that steps be taken immediately to go out and approach the school’s top donors with the idea of contributing to renaming the building which houses much of the athletic department as is home to WVU basketball as … the Jerry West WVU Coliseum

Jerry West’s WVU jersey and a ball from the 1959 NCAA Final Four

Jerry West may be the NBA logo but he symbolizes everything the state of West Virginia stands for.

Just as the Coliseum is as Lyons called it “the most iconic building in West Virginia, maybe second to the Capitol … maybe even first,” so West is the most iconic native of the state.

“There’s nothing like this building when you come up over the hill on I-79 and see it lit up at night,” said Lyons.

And, in truth, the building probably is there as much as a tribute to the basketball foundation West started as to any other reason.

Jerry West started with nothing but desire and in a state that lived off its coal mining. It was fitting that he had tunnel vision as he dug his way out of Chelyan and put not only West Virginia basketball but the state on the world map.

West transcended basketball, winning a Gold Medal in 1960 with maybe the greatest Olympic team ever, led the Mountaineers to their only NCAA Final game, fought an uphill battle throughout his career before becoming an NBA champion in 1972.

But as great as he was in basketball, he was as good as an NBA executive, again as intense as ever and settling for nothing but success, West became legendary after his playing career ended and then widened his influence by simply being a wonderful person.

There are hundreds of reasons to name the WVU Coliseum after West and certainly thousands of donors who would involve themselves in financing such a move.

And among the reasons to put West’s name on the Coliseum is that it would be an economical move, for they already have the statue honoring him out front.



Home forums Hertzel’s Thoughts: A Proposal For Naming The WVU Coliseum

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    Hertzel’s Thoughts: A Proposal For Naming The WVU Coliseum MORGANTOWN — If you will pardon me for this summer intrusion, I wish to get your attention
    [See the full post at: Hertzel’s Thoughts: A Proposal For Naming The WVU Coliseum]


    I do not pretend to speak for those of us who were able to see Jerry play in the old field house, but Bob is absolutely right on this one. No one has sustained greatness like Jerry. No one has remained as humble and loyal to his roots as Jerry. I only wish that this would have happened sooner so more of the generation who sat in the old field house night after night chanting ” pour it on Mounties pour it on” could have been here to enjoy it. I only have one suggestion to add. Every contribution should contain the number “44” whether it be $44 or $44 million.Have the naming ceremony on the 44th day of the year at 4:44 PM.


    Nice suggestions!

    Maybe there is room for both? Naming rights for the Coliseum and annointing the “Jerry West Court”?

    In no way am I saying that honoring Jerry is a bad idea. But is there a way to do both?


    Nice suggestions!

    Maybe there is room for both? Naming rights for the Coliseum and annointing the “Jerry West Court”?

    In no way am I saying that honoring Jerry is a bad idea. But is there a way to do both?

    I like the “Jerry West Court” idea and as a permanent name
    whereas the Colosium name should be up for bid every five


    Naming the Coli is big bucks advertising opportunity. 5 to 10 years is the norm for this type of corporate advertising.

    The court would be a good way to show our respect to The Logo.


    Here’s what Bank One paid for the Diamondbacks rights…. 20 years ago…… PNC Park rights were thought to be in the same range….
    Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, a sibling publication of The Pittsburgh Business Times, reported that the Diamondbacks’ marketing deal cost Bank One as much as the naming rights — in effect doubling the revenue Arizona gained from the arrangement. Bank One Ballpark, which opened earlier this year, will cost its namesake about $1 million for the 1998 season. But the deal increases each year and will total more than $60 million over 30 years. Another $60 million-plus will be paid by Bank One for exclusive marketing rights.

    Granted, this is MLB, but NCAA, P5 has some legs also.


    Comcast paid $20 million in 2002 for a 25-year naming rights deal to Maryland’s basketball arena. At the time, that was one of the highest deals for a collegiate property.

    Looking at some of the other rights deals, some appear to be doing the court\facility double. For example, UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, which was named for a donor for the now seeming bargain rate of $1 million, is the home of John and Nell Wooden Court.

    Colorado State just closed a $37.7 million 15-year deal with the Public Service Credit Union. Numbers like that make it seem like WVU could get 500-750K per year for a multi-year deal for the Coliseum.


    Just start a GoFundMe account. That’ll get you the money you need. From WVU fans everywhere.


    There are already several sites that WVU has for giving in a variety of ways. They are all at http://www.mountaineerathleticclub.com/

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