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WVU plans $106 million upgrades to athletic venues

| Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 8:06 p.m.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Milan Puskar Stadium, home of West Virginia's football team for 34 years, will be the immediate beneficiary of a $106 million renovation of the university's sports facilities, athletic director Oliver Luck said Tuesday.

One of the upgrades especially pleases Dana Holgorsen, who has criticized the team meeting room.

Among eight renditions of stadium upgrades displayed during Luck's news conference was that of a new team room with large, plush, theater-style seats. Luck said it will cost $5 million, which has been raised by the Mountaineer Athletic Club as part of an overall goal of $25 million.

“A football program needs to operate at maximum efficiency in order to be successful,” Holgorsen said. “We've been working hard on trying to get out there to raise the money that we need to be able to make the needed facility improvements a reality. No. 1 was the weight room, and we got that accomplished.

“The second thing is your meeting space. You have to be able to meet appropriately, which we can't,” he said. “The team room isn't big enough for the entire squad to meet. Since 1980, there haven't been any improvements done to the room, minus a few video updates. Because of private donations, we are now able to get that accomplished.”

The rest of the financing for the projects will come from a $75 million university-issued bond backed by guaranteed money from the Big 12 and $6 million in guaranteed revenue from WVU's multimedia contract with IMG.

WVU receives a partial share of Big 12 revenues but will become eligible for a full share starting in 2015-16. By then, the conference is expected to pay member schools about $30 million a year.

Other stadium updates cited by Luck include renovation and expansion of the stadium's concourses, restrooms, entrance gates and concessions; a new scoreboard in the north end zone; upgrading of box seats; additions of four LED boards mounted the field-level corners and coverings to the field walls.

He added that a persistent problem with pyrite, a type of rock that is causing structural damage, needs to be addressed.

Luck said there is no “timeline” but hopes the major structural stadium work can begin after the upcoming football season.

One immediate nonfootball upgrade will be a new marquee in front of WVU Coliseum.

All of these are considered the “initial projects.” The design work is finished, and the costs determined. Regarding renovations to WVU Coliseum, a 44-year-old structure that hosts basketball, gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling, “We have a lot of options of things that we're looking at but really haven't decided finally on what we want to do,” Luck said. “But we know there are a number of things that really need to be done.”

He said a “top priority” is renovating the lower concourse in light of the College of Physical Activity and Sports Science vacating the facility. Renovating concessions and restrooms also are high on the list, Luck said.

Luck said other planned improvements include a new indoor track, renovation of the Natatorium and tennis courts, additional locker rooms for nonrevenue sports and repurposing Hawley Field. Increasing Coliseum parking also remains a possibility, he said.

The $20 million Monongalia County baseball stadium in Granville, W.Va., which will house the WVU baseball team and possibly a minor league club, is a separately funded deal.

All plans require approval from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, which meets later this month, but that is considered a formality.

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com or via Twitter@BCohn_Trib.

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