The Times West Virginian

March 21, 2014

WVU proposes $106M in upgrades

By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — Those who asked what West Virginia University’s athletic department was going to do with the increased revenues it would receive from jumping to the Big 12 and selling its Tier 3 rights to IMG Sports now have an answer.

An ambitious $106 million proposal to improve facilities for not only football and basketball, but also many of the non-revenue sports, will be presented to the WVU Board of Governors Finance Committee on March 28 and will move on to the Facilities Committee on April 2 and to the full Board of Governors on April 4 before going to the Higher Education Policy Commission, which will vote on it later in April.

There is much optimism that it will pass these steps, having already been reviewed and approved by the WVU finance office and planning committee.

The key to the financing is the guaranteed income flow from the Big 12, which will be paying out up to $30 million a year in television revenue when WVU is getting a full share, and, to a lesser extent, the money coming in from IMG.

Previously, WVU’s money wasn’t guaranteed as it is now, which allows it to issue $75 million worth of revenue bonds to go along with $25 million in Mountaineer Athletic Club fundraising and $6 million in IMG revenue.

 This facilities upgrade is under different financing than the $20-million Monongalia County Baseball Stadium in Granville that was made possible by a state Legislature and county approved TIF district at the University Towne Centre.

There will be a renovation and expansion of the stadium’s east, west, north and south concourses, restrooms, entrance gates and concessions. The field boxes, which have not been renovated since the stadium opened, will be a major project, as will be the West concourse (the Law School side), which has some severe problems due to soil issues.

The athletic department has gotten a head start on this matter, hiring the Heery International architectural firm.

 In addition to that, they will add up to four LED boards in the stadium through the funding from the IMG contract. These will be both informative boards and boards earning revenue through advertising.

The stadium work on the concourses will begin, if passed, following this season and they will probably do one side of the field this off season and the other the next (2015).

Plans at the Coliseum call for an upgrade of restrooms (where they are 150 short of what is considered necessary for a 14,000-seat arena) and concessions while a potential expansion of the concourses is being discussed.

With the College of Physical Active and Sports Sciences (CPASS) moving out of the Coliseum, it frees up a great deal of space in the form of classrooms and professors’ offices for expansion and to make the interior of the building look more like an arena and less like an academic facility.

The work in the stadium and Coliseum is not expected to affect capacity.

Also on the drawing boards are a renovation of the Shell Building and new indoor track, a renovation of the WVU Natatorium and the tennis courts while they are also planning to add additional home and visiting locker rooms (currently, visiting women soccer teams have to meet in a tent at halftime), and an additional varsity sports weight room.

Also listed is a “repurposing of Hawley Field,” the baseball field that will be abandoned when the next ballpark becomes operational.

There is no time for these improvements designated and it is not expected all of them will be done beyond the stadium and Coliseum.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.