WVU Facilities Master Plan Notebook
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University’s $100 million facilities master plan is ambitious in scope, touching every sport on the Mountaineer landscape and covering renovations and new construction that will likely spread over the next five years. That makes for a lot of ground to cover in trying to bring it all into perspective, so to help unpack it a bit we’ve broken it down into several smaller items.
Football Is Still King
The bulk of the money, some $55 million, goes to the football complex, which has already seen massive updates to the stadium, practice field, training room and training table. Of course, football drives more donations than anything else, and gobbles up the highest percentage of resources at most every school, so this isn’t a big surprise. Still, this means that if the changes begin on schedule following this football season, the complex will have been in a constant state of construction and renewal for most of a decade.
That’s not a problem for Director of Athletics Shane Lyons, who noted that if he doesn’t see cranes around campus, he feels like the program is moving backward.
Moving the Brohard Hall of Traditions
This is long overdue, and will finally put the history of Mountaineer football on display to the public at regular times. The current location, only accessible via the Puskar Center by walking past coaches’ offices and position meeting rooms, was a disaster in terms of visibility and access to the public. The new location will also serve as the front entrance to the complex as visitors turn off Don Nehlen Drive. While this will likely be a couple of years in the making, it can’t come soon enough, and will fix multiple problems with one fell swoop.
The Changes Make Sense…
Lyons termed the changes “needs, not wants” and the described projects fit the bill. There aren’t barber shops or sleep rooms or new age Gregorian chant meditation chambers. About the most outre thing there is a waterfall in the hydrotherapy area of the Puskar Center, and that’s very low-key compared to the excesses of some programs. Overall, the changes appear to be very functional, nice looking with a clean, modern design, but not over the top. Somehow WVU will have to survive without having a slicky-slide or a putt-putt golf course.
…But Aesthetics Won’t Be Ignored
While the plans show a sound cost-benefit ratio, they won’t skimp on making things look niceboth inside and out. The slope between the Coliseum and the new Olympic sport weight room and training area will be converted into an attractive terraced area, and the jarring red apron around the Coliseum — a pet peeve of Lyons’ — will be replaced with concrete and pavers, including a bricked area using the original bricks from the original WVU Fieldhouse, which is slated for demolition.
Also on tap is external lighting for the Coliseum that can illuminate it with different colors — highlighting one of the most iconic buildings in the state.
No Changes Slated For the Caperton Indoor Facility
Even with a $55 million goal, no major changes are planned for the Caperton Indoor Facility. There’s no room to extend it lengthwise, and as Lyons notes, “there aren’t too many 100-yard plays in football anyway”. Would it be nice to have a full-blown 120-yard building with a roof like a blimp hangar? Sure. But many of the other needs come first, and the current indoor facility serves its purpose. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t stand a little sprucing up, including big graphics or banners along the plain walls.
Locker Rooms And Player Study And Lounge Areas Are A Focus
Up and down the plan, new or refurbished locker rooms, player lounges and study areas on on the boards. While such areas have been staples for the football and basketball programs, some sports haven’t even had their own locker rooms. This plan, again spread out over a five-year period, will remedy many of those shortcomings. The new Olympic sports weight room and training facility, which will be located in the space currently occupied by the Natatorium, will serve some 350 student athletes outside of the football and basketball programs.
No Hawley Field Decision
Not included was any decision on Hawley Field, the former home of Mountaineer Baseball. WVU will quickly convert the track into parking once the new track facility is available for use this fall, but Hawley Field will remain for the present. The demand for even more parking is something that was heard, but WVU wants to keep its options open for the use of that land.
Golf Gets Into the Game
The addition of a golf practice center will at least give WVU a chance to close the massive gap between itself and other Big 12 schools, which their history and inherent weather advantages help hold. It will likely take several years to build and then capitalize on the new facility, which will include covered and heated hitting bays as well as a layout that can be configured to yield as many as 27 different hole configurations. West Virginia has operated on a shoestring since reinstating its golf program, and this will make it an attractive regional destination. Competing with the Big 12? That’s another level entirely.
The Big Question
Can WVU donors come up with the money? That’s the linchpin upon which all of these projects rest. For reference, the entire University embarked on the “State of Minds” fundraising campaign in 2012, with a goal of $750 million. Just two years later, it topped that goal, and closed out with $1.2 billion in donations, making WVU one of only 37 four-year public universities to have topped that amount in a single campaign. Another item to note: 147 donors gave gifts of $1 million or more. Rack up just two-thirds of that total, and the goal is met.
Of course, that effort was for the entire school, not just for athletics, but it does show that fundraising is not an impossibility on that scale. It’s going to be a huge challenge for both the WVU athletics administration and the Mountaineer Athletic Club, but who would have predicted that the State of Minds Campaign would even reach its goal, much less top it by half a billion?