By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian
The Fairmont State University Athletic Department has the go ahead to move forward in the renovating process of the Feaster Center.
During Thursday’s meeting, the FSU Board of Governors approved a motion to hire the Thrasher Group Inc. to oversee the design and construction of the Retton Arena’s renovations located in the Feaster Center.
Athletic director Tim McNeely said having the approval to hire the Thrasher Group is just one more step needed in the process of revamping the university’s athletic facility.
“There are various hoops to jump through, but this hoop basically got the board’s approval to hire the architect,” he said.
McNeely said now the athletic department will be working with the Thrasher Group in developing a plan to replace the gym floor, bleachers, lighting and PA system.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” he said. “We’re going to bring our ideas and their ideas together and put a plan together for the design first and secondly for the strategic marketing plan.”
McNeely said construction on the renovations is set to start in May 2014 and be ready for teams when they return to school the following fall.
“Our goal is to start construction after graduation in May and do that over the summer,” he said.
With replacing the floor, McNeely said it’s due for an upgrade.
“That floor has been there for a while,” he said. “It’s served us very well, but it’s time to put a new touch on the way things look and the way things feel.”
As for the bleachers, McNeely said they’re going to work with the Thrasher Group to maximize seating but to also provide comfort. The renovations for the bleachers include seats that fold down and have back support.
“The fault might be that we might lose some seating, but it will be a lot more comfortable,” McNeely said. “We will work with the Thrasher Group to make sure we capitalize on any avaliable space to salvage every avaliable seat that we can.”
McNeely said all sports use the Feaster Center whether it be for practices or for games.
“I think it will take the program to another level,” McNeely said. “Women’s volleyball will be the first group on it next fall to compete.”
As for the lighting and PA system, McNeely said upgrading is needed for those elements. He added newer systems will also benefit the department by saving more.
“There’s new equipment out there that is energy efficient,” he said. “It will save us money and illuminate the arena in a better way that will be more appropriate not only for the competition but for photography and video purposes.”
Renovations for the Feaster Natatorium have already begun.
At Thursday’s meeting, Stephanie Slaubaugh, project manager, said construction on the natatorium started on Oct. 8.
“We expect to have the project closed out in the middle of January,” she said.
Slaubaugh said renovations for the Feaster Natatorium include installing a new ADHC unit, replacing the windows with a metal panel system, replacing sliding glass doors, painting the pool, installing a new drainage system and upgrading the show rooms.
“The ADHC unit is a special dehumidifaction unit that’s for a pool setting,” she said. “It will be a really nice facility when it’s all done, and it’s much needed.”
Slaughbaugh said other renovations on campus include re-roofing Jaynes Hall.
The next Fairmont State Board of Governors meeting will be at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 at the Falcon Center.
Email Emily Gallagher at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.