Sitting Down with Lyons: Facilities
If things go according to plan by the time the West Virginia football team opens the 2016 season there will be several significant upgrades to Milan Puskar Stadium according to athletic director Shane Lyons.
Work on widening both the east and west concourses will start this summer with the goal to alleviate the congestion on game days at Mountaineer Field by providing both more space and new entrances.
The construction also will provide more fan-friendly amenities such as additional restrooms and concession stands along with additional televisions that will be placed in the concourses to allow fans to enjoy the game even if they are not in their seats, Lyons said.
"We're just making sure the fan experience is as good as we can make it," he said.
The sweeping renovations are part of the $106 million facility improvement plan announced last spring made up of a $75 million bond, $25 million in fundraising and $6 million from the multimedia contract.
The concourse renovations are expected to be completed by the start of the 2016 football campaign but isn't the only project that should be wrapped up by the time that season kicks off in the fall of next year.
As part of the ongoing renovations, the current turf is scheduled to be replaced along with removing the crown out of the field at the stadium. That project is set to begin in January 2016 with the completion date expected sometime in May, according to Lyons.
Similar to the work being done at the football stadium, expansion of the concourses at the Coliseum is also on deck with the goal of having it completed by the start of the 2016 hoops season.
"It's aggressive and we know that but I think it's things that are needed in order to continue to compete at this level in a power five conference and help us in recruiting," Lyons said. "And obviously give our fans a lot more amenities and different things they can enjoy when they come to either venue."
A makeover could be coming to the grass practice fields above the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility could be coming as soon as this fall, according to Lyons.
While funding for the project has yet to be secured and it only remains in the planning phase for now, university officials are looking at removing some of the hills and repositioning the fields in order to create more space for the football team to practice.
If the project goes as planned, there would be one full length practice field that would be turfed along with another field that would be somewhere around 80-yards that would be grass. The estimated cost of the project would come in at around $2.5 million and if funding can be secured it is something that Lyons would like to see done sometime this fall.
"Space is an issue for a lot of football teams," Lyons said.
When it comes to renovations at the Puskar Center, Lyons said that while the project is on the backburner for now the next phase will be to build a new training facility but like the practice fields that will rest entirely on securing funding although there is no estimation on when that will occur.
Additionally, Lyons said that he has not looked at any renovations for the current Indoor Practice Facility but believes that it is still usable space.
One area that has been discussed is the possibility of suites being added to the Coliseum and Lyons said that architects have been looking at the issue to determine if first there is a market for it and secondly how it would fit in with the current structure of the facility.
The new $20 million Monongalia County Ballpark has been an overwhelming success to this point according to Lyons and by this summer the party deck as well as the clubhouses and offices for the Minor League team are expected to be completed.
By the start of the next baseball season Lyons has been told that the locker room is expected to be finished while the paving and parking is scheduled to be wrapped up and ready by this June.
"I've heard nothing but positive things," Lyons said on the new baseball stadium.
School officials also have talked to architects about building a new strength and conditioning facility along with a new training room for the Olympic sports.
But in all Lyons said that he has not identified anything additional to what was already in the works or had been previously talked about, however, he is keeping a close eye on the scope of the facilities.
"You always have to have a vision of where we want to be," he said.