WVU Tries to Keep Pace in Big 12 Facility Arms Race

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When it comes to athletic facilities, those in the Big 12 don't mind spending a buck or two. Or millions of bucks or two.

Look around.

Oklahoma scaled down a $370 million project to a mere $160 million upgrade to Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kansas State's Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium has had about $200 million in renovations.

Iowa States Jack Trice Stadium had a $60 million facelift in 2015. TCUs Amon G. Carter Stadium had a $164 million re-do in 2012. Texas is always spending including updating its Godzillatron and sporting the fancy lockers of which youve probably heard. And Texas Tech has new FieldTurf and has poured more than $150 million into Jones AT&T Stadium over the past two decades.

Of course, WVU is also spending. And athletic director Shane Lyons is using this summer to determine just how.

"Now that the new fiscal year has started, we're focusing on the upcoming years," he said this week. "We're studying whats potentially next from a facility standpoint. We're looking at the finances and how things can happen.

"Thats always ongoing. We need to have the right plan in place. We feel good about finishing products on the [Milan Puskar] football stadium. The west side and video board are coming along as projected. We just have to keep moving forward and not get complacent."

The Mountaineers already have a new team meeting room and have spruced up the stadiums east side. Now the west side is being worked on and a $4 million video screen is going up.

Also, West Virginias Coliseum is currently housing construction workers.

"This summer we've been working on the [American Disability Act] requirements," Lyons said. "Thats part of Phase Two [of the 100-plus-million-dollar department-wide facility renovation initiative], as well as adding a new club area or potential suites. Thats been put on hold though."

Throughout the years the 14,000-seat Coliseum has lost seating capacity and that will again be the case in 2017.

"We've lost a few seats in the upper bowl in order to build out the [ADA] platforms," Lyons said. "We had some, but we needed additional ones for wheelchair and handicap access. That will be finished in the next week or two."

Fans heading to the Coliseum will, however, notice a new feature.

"We're still working on electronic technology to honor our Hall of Fame members and All-Americans," he said. "Touch-screen TVs and all that. Hopefully it will be finished in the early fall."

What wont be finished is a proposed work center downstairs for visiting and local media.

"That was initially part of adding suites and/or a club area," Lyons said. "With so much overrun with the concourse area work we've been slowed from a funding standpoint. That's what we're continuing to look at: the next phase at the Coliseum.

"The dominos have to fall right," he continued. "Currently that area is the weight room. In order to put a club or suites in there, the weight room has to be moved out. But I need somewhere for that. So were trying to plan strategically."

Ultimately, the plan is to move the media to the opposite side and then have the work room downstairs and add more premium seat loge boxes.

If WVU ever wishes to be an NCAA tournament host, such amenities are a necessity. Still, though, Morgantown will have trouble landing a round.

"It's difficult in basketball because you need enough hotel rooms," Lyons said. "Obviously, Morgantown is growing. You have more hotels coming on line. Its just something we can continue to look at."

Indeed, Morgantown is bursting with growth. Ditto Big 12 schools.

And WVUs athletic department is doing its best to keep up.

Contact Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827 or [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter @MitchVingle.

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July 17, 2017


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