West Virginia's facilities construction continues to run on schedule as the school enters the first session of summer classes. Two major projects – the new wrestling facility situated adjacent to the WVU Coliseum and Natatorium, and the Hall of Traditions, located in the Milan Puskar Center on the football complex, are both on schedule for completion before the fall semester begins.
"The wrestling facility is going great guns," Associate Athletic Director Russ Sharp said. "It is on schedule for completion in the latter half of July, and even if it has a bit of a delay it should be ready before school starts."
The new wrestling building will provide the program with the space and facilities it needs to continue to be competitive on a national scale, and will also be a big help in recruiting as West Virginia continues its pursuit of a national championship.
Also on track for timely completion is the Brohard Hall of Traditions, which will give Mountaineer fans a unique look at the history of West Virginia football. The hall, which will consist of memorabilia as well as interactive displays that can be changed and updated as new chapters are written in WVU's gridiron history, is located on the top floor of the Puskar Center, adjacent to the Thomas Room.
The Hall will give West Virginia a focal point to display its history – something that has been missing in the past. Items have been displayed in various locations around the Puskar Center, but the Hall will bring them together and add some unique methods of telling the WVU football story. It is certainly an item that will help in recruiting as well.
"We're making very good progress there as well," Sharp said of the Hall. "The cases and displays are scheduled to be installed in the second half of June, and we should be able to wrap that up in late June and early July."
Those two items certainly aren't the end of the story, however. While they, along with a life-size statue of Jerry West slated for installation outside the Coliseum later this year, are the only projects that have been fully funded, they aren't the only things on the horizon for WVU's athletic facilities.
The AstroPlay artificial surface in the football stadium is nearing the end of its lifecycle, and could be replaced following the 2006 football season. Since the company that made and marketed AstroPlay has gone out of business since the 2002 installation of the surface at WVU, it's likely that another FieldTurf-like surface will be chosen as the replacement. A committee composed of football, facility and financial staff will work on that project. The cost of this project will likely be in the $750,000 range, and bids will likely be let in the fall.
A new academic study center at the Coliseum is also on the horizon. This project will expand the current center to more than 10,000 square feet, and will provide sufficient study areas for all WVU athletes – with the focus being on those located at the Coliseum complex. Approximately $2.5 million dollars will be required to complete this project.
With the Brohard Hall of Traditions focused on football, another Hall is also being proposed to cover all other sports. This Hall would also be located at the Coliseum, and provide many of the same features as the Brohard Hall. Video boards for the interior of the Coliseum, as well as renovations to the concourse and concessions areas of the Coliseum, could also be parts of this project. Altogether, at least $1 million would have to
be raised for these projects.
Plans also exist for a project to tie Hawley Field, home of the Mountaineer baseball team, with the newly-completed Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. This project would create a plaza between the two structures, and also provide for construction of new clubhouse facilities and renovations of the dugouts for the baseball team. Approximately $650,000 would be required to complete these renovations and construction items.
The great popularity of the Touchdown Terrace at Milan Puskar Stadium could also lead to an expansion of that seating area. While not as fully formed as the other plans currently in place, Sharp said an expansion "has potential" and could be looked at in the coming years. The current Touchdown Terrace seating section could easily be extended on each end to meet with the original lower deck of the stadium.