With the $45 million in upgrades nearly complete, Milan Puskar Stadium has gained a modern, updated look that was badly overdue. The renovations - nearly completed on the east side and scheduled to be completed on the west for next season - have widened the concourse, upgraded and additional restrooms and concessions and improved the flow and points of sale in and around the concession areas. (See videos and pictures below.)
Fans can expect quicker sales and no more lines snaking into the main foot traffic, with concessions shifted to the end of the concourses as opposed to the middle. Other notable upgrades include new landscaping, 20 additional entryways and gates - 10 each at both the northeast and northwest gates - and a significant upgrade to the enclosed field box seats at the top of the lower level. Those have been refitted with heaters, chairback padded seats with cupholders, 38 LED flat-screen televisions, a new sound system and wrap around glass with graphics for privacy. The boxes also feature food and beverage service.
It comes new price tag to match; the seat cost $995 ($600 required MAC donation plus $395 season ticket) last season, and is priced at either $1,300 or $1,500 this year with the same season ticket cost and an increased required donation.
WVU has also added a new team room and upgraded its weight room in recent years, all part of the now more than $30 million in annual Big 12 revenues. In addition, The crown removal, new drainage and turf replacement is complete. The field now sports a flatter base with exceptional draining ability, along with new turf which includes a larger Flying WV in the middle, larger Big 12 conference logos and the same end zone designs, with "West Virginia" in the north (hospital) end and "Mountaineers" toward the south. In addition, construction is also complete on the new practice field, which replaced natural grass with more sturdy turf, and upgraded some of the signage. Work is also complete on the new storage facility adjacent to the practice fields.
"I have to play some catching up in facilities," Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. "Being in a Power Five conference and looking at what we are competing against and what we have to do from a recruiting and resource standpoint, it won't happen today or tomorrow. But three, five, seven, 10 years down the road, we can play catch-up and it's going to take a lot of money. We are putting a lot of resources into our programs to make us not only competitive within the Big 12 conference, but nationally."
According to WVU, the renovations also include:
* Four new stations for fans to charge their phones and portable devices
* Expanded first aid rooms
* Improved graphics and clearly marked stadium section signage to help fans more quickly identify their seat locations
* Improved lighting throughout the concourse area
* Two additional locations to purchase Mountaineer Seatback chairs
* Vastly improved restrooms, including 90 additional toilets in the women’s restrooms alone
* Twenty-five additional points of sale for concessions, along with the installation of TV monitors and speakers at the concession areas enabling fans to continue to follow game action while waiting in line
* More portable concession areas throughout the stadium
* Added table-top seating along the exterior quadrants along with the addition of new food items to the menu
* The installation of 77 TV monitors, including those installed inside the newly refurbished box seating areas
* The construction of two new elevators to assist with traffic flow on the east side quadrants
* A new, permanent Team Shop facility for fans to purchase their latest Mountaineer gear
Note: Delays in the Coliseum renovations due to asbestos removal have pushed the completion date past the Nov. 11 opener against Mount St. Mary's. The Coliseum will still be able to host all regular season home games, but will have only the vast majority of the entire renovations completed by the start of the season. The full completion date for all scheduled construction this cycle is likely to be around late December to early January.
West Virginia has already scheduled the Gold-Blue Debut in Wheeling and the exhibition against WVU Tech for Beckley in anticipation. The good news is fans will be treated to far more restrooms, concessions and points of sale even with only part of the project complete. Once finished, the initial $15 million first phase project will more than double the restrooms from 62 to 155, nearly double the points of sale (from 28 to 52) and add four new, more extensive concession areas.
The second phase of the project, to be completed in 2017, upgrades the ADA seating from 42 to 164, getting the Coliseum within the legal requirements, and will add six suites. It will also remove the current weight room from the Coliseum, as another one, with new training rooms as well, is built inside the Shell Building.
There are also plans for a public partnership with county and city entities and Milan Park to build a new $25 million aquatic and track and field area which would be shared by WVU and the community. The facility will include a 75,000-square-foot, 50-meter, eight-lane competition pool and diving tower with seating for 1,000 spectators, a warm-water therapeutic pool, family/public pool and water park, two wet classrooms, a cardio fitness room, two multi-purpose rooms, locker room facilities and concession areas in the aquatic center, and a fully functional, nine-lane outdoor track located near the aquatic center with seating for 1,000 spectators, public restrooms and the ability to play host to a wide array of track and field events. Also included in the new recreational facility will be a cross country course encircling the entire complex.
All of it will largely replace West Virginia's current track and field and natatorium, which are badly outdated. The track is subpar and the pool is not regular competition size, and thus WVU cannot host events like the Big 12 championships. This fixes those issues, and finally adds an indoor public pool for the community.