Lyons To Unveil Athletic Facilities Master Plan
West Virginia’s director of athletics Shane Lyons is slated to meet with the media Thursday morning to unveil WVU’s latest version of its athletic facilities master plan.
West Virginia has had other master plans in the past, but those change over time. Lyons will present this latest version, which figures to have a number of significant projects.
WVU is currently wrapping up Phase 1 of the master plan that was announced four years ago by Lyons’ predecessor, Oliver Luck. Those renovations included major updates to the concourse areas at Mountaineer Field and the WVU Coliseum, all of which have been completed. Also part of Phase 1 was a new aquatics center and track & field facility, both at Mylan Park. Those projects are still being worked on, with the track slated to be completed this fall and the aquatics center next fall.
The total bill for Phase 1 was in the range of $106 million.
“I’m really pleased with everything that we have right now,” explained Lyons in a recent interview. “Phase 1 is what I call the fan enhancement aspect of the renovations. What we’ve done at the football stadium and at the Coliseum, with the new concessions, new restrooms and easier fan flow though each facility has been remarkable. I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback. Esthetically I think each facility is the best they’ve ever looked.”
The master plan Lyons will unveil Thursday will include items that will be part of Phase 2 of this athletic plan.
“Phase 2 will be more oriented to our student-athlete,” noted Lyons. “At football, it will include a new operations center. We’re finishing up a new training area, and we’ll have a new training table area over there. Other renovations will include a new home locker room, a new visiting locker room, new position meeting rooms and coaches’ offices. The entire operations complex will be changing.
“Within the Coliseum, there are things we need to do within the inner bowl in terms of seating, lighting, a new video board and things there.
“For the Olympic sports, we need a new weight room and training facility, and we’re looking at updating the Shell (Building) area,” he added.
Much of the money for $106 million Phase 1 came through a bonding process, in which WVU basically took out a $75 million loan against the anticipated proceeds from the Big 12 Conference. Not wanting to incur more debt, Lyons hopes to pay for this latest round of renovations through private donations.
“There is a fundraising aspect that will go with these new renovations,” said West Virginia’s director of athletics, who has been in that position since January of 2015. “We want to get these plans out to the public so we can go start raising a lot of those funds.”
While the total cost of Phase 2 isn’t yet know, though it could be released on Thursday, certainly the biggest ticket item figures to be the major overhaul of the Puskar Center at Mountaineer Field. The operations center for WVU football, the Puskar Center features coaches offices, meeting rooms, locker rooms, a cafeteria, a weight room, luxury suites over looking the playing field and much more. A new team room was recently built off to one side of the Puskar Center, and a new training area has been constructed under that. Other than these new areas, much of the rest of the Puskar Center will be renovated with new offices, position meeting rooms, locker rooms and more.
At the Coliseum, the lights and video board will likely be updated, but the biggest project will probably be replacing most of the 14,000 seats, which are original to the 48-year-old building.
Lyons also wants a training facility for the varsity sports teams somewhere in the Coliseum area. That facility would put weight training, physical therapy, nutrition and other aspects for those programs all under one roof.
Another piece of Phase 2 figures to be the purchase of land for, and then the construction of, a golf practice facility.
WVU is looking at 93 acres of land that has been home to the White Day Golf Course. No longer in operation, that nine-hole course is situated on the Monongalia-Marion County line on Route 73 less than four miles south of the Goshen Road exit of I-79.
Lyons hopes to use the land to construct an all-weather practice facility at that site. That project would cost in the neighborhood of $5 million.
“That facility would be a game changer and much needed for our golf program,” Lyons said. “We’re in the best golf conference in the country, and if we want to compete with the likes of Oklahoma State (11 NCAA titles including 2018), Texas and Oklahoma, this is something that Coach (Sean) Covich needs.”
Lyons will unveil his entire master plan for these and other projects Thursday.