The Times West Virginian

Fairmont State Sports

November 24, 2013

FSU unveils plan for future of Joe Retton Arena

FAIRMONT — Fairmont State University allowed its donors to see where their money has been going Saturday and introduced a plan for a future project.

The university, which just finished up renovations on the facilities at Joe Retton Arena, is planning an estimated $1.5 million project to put in new flooring along with new seats in the arena. The project is expected to commence on the Monday after spring commencement.

“It’s a special day,” FSU athletic director Tim McNeely said to the donors as they gathered in the Shaw House for lunch. “A lot of exciting things are going on, and there’s a lot of exciting things on down the road.”

McNeely, along with Fairmont State President Dr. Maria Rose and assistant athletic director Chad Fowler, thanked the donors for their efforts and wanted to take the time to show them just where there money had gone.

Led by Fowler, the donors were able to walk through the new facilities including the hospitality room, the theater room, the men’s and women’s basketball locker rooms and the football locker room.

Many of the donors, talking among themselves, commented on how well the new amenities looked.

The next step in improving the facilities was revealed to them later over lunch at Dr. Rose’s home.

“We need your help,” McNeely said to the donors. “There are a lot of top Division II schools getting new facilities. It’s our turn.”

There, donors were able to walk through a presentation of three options for new flooring, as well as see an example of the new folding-type seating and see live examples of the types of hardwood that could be used on the new court.

The options include a very traditional style along with two more modern styles. Each option displayed a logo with two featuring the modernized “F” and the other featuring the Falcon. Two of the options had the word “Falcons” imprinted on the baseline, while the option with the Falcon logo had “Fairmont State” on the baseline. Each option, though, had a unique aspect whether it be the logo or the color of the flooring.

These options were supplemented with the new auditorium-style seats that would fill Joe Retton Arena.

McNeely believes making these improvements will exponentially increase interest in the school.

“It’s very important from a recruiting standpoint,” he said. “When you look at top Division II schools or even Division I schools, the common denominator is top-grade facilities. So we have to always be upgrading, improving, and whenever we stop doing that, then we’re giving up.”

With the new court also comes a chance for a new name and the chance for someone to put their stamp on the community.

“We can put naming rights on the floor and throughout the arena like you see around the country now,” said McNeely. “We can really showcase someone’s family legacy or corporate identity.”

McNeely said that even though the changes would be to the court, it would affect every athletic program at the university.

“That court is not just a basketball court. Our entire athletic department uses that court,” he said. “It’s a reflection on the entire athletic department.”

While the new changes will surely affect the outlook on the athletic programs, it will also help for other things like commencement ceremonies.

“What a beautiful arena it will be for spring commencement,” said McNeely. “There’s a lot of different people in the community that use that facility.”

Dr. Rose added to his sentiment, saying that the school has been wanting to make this change for quite some time because of the interest the facility holds in the community.

“A lot of different schools in the area actually use our Retton Arena for their commencement ceremonies,” said Dr. Rose. “In addition to that, any time we have a big concert or gathering, it’s a great place for the community to gather. The problem is, it’s such an old facility that it’s not ADA compliant.”

Dr. Rose said that the school hopes to make the new facility a “more comfortable place for everybody.”

“Im excited to roll up my sleeves and get started,” McNeely said as his closing words to the donors.

On top of that, head men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun spoke to donors of plans to organize bus trips for donors to travel with the team as well as a future project to construct a Hall of Traditions that showcases greats from every sport at Fairmont State on the second floor of Joe Retton Arena.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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