35 year old Milan Puskar Stadium, commonly known as Mountaineer field, is in need of a much needed face lift. As part of the department-wide bond initiative in 2014, Milan Puskar will undergo a $45 million construction. “Renovations to the stadium will improve the patron game day environment as well as generate new revenue,” as stated on construction.wvu.edu.
April Messerly, assistant athletics director for facilities, said the scheduled renovation on the east side of the stadium is expected to be complete by the start of the 2016 season and the west side to begin next year and completed by the start of the 2017 season.
Thursday in a press conference with the media, Messerly laid out the goals for the completion of the stadium and asked fans to be patient during the construction for the payoff in the end. “We are not alone in this,” she said. Just like all kinds of stadiums across America every year, there’s construction that goes on even during the season… But we are going to have to ask our fans for even more patience this year, especially on the east side,” Messerly said.
Some of these goals include:
- Doubling the bathroom count
- Widening the concourse
- Updated box seats
- More ADA accessible
- More entrance gates at all four corners
- Concession points of sales increase to current collegiate state of the art levels
Messery talked about the national studies the team looked at in the design of the upgrades. “It’s interesting because the thought is people want better Wi-Fi connectivity or cell phone capability, but clean bathrooms was the top wish for fans.”
“They wanted more concession options and enough so that they didn’t have to stand in line forever waiting to be served,” Messerly added.
Accessibility is the main concern for the stadium built in 1980 that has basically been untouched. The currently cramped concourses will be widened about 25-50 feet to allow better traffic flow and additional restrooms. During construction, the gates will continue to open 90 minutes prior to kick off to help with congestion and they encourage fans, especially students, to take advantage of this.
“No matter what we do, and no matter how hard we try to get folks to come in earlier, our fans love the tailgating experience,” she said. “It’s that half-hour right before kickoff when everyone arrives. We hope our fans adjust and accept what we need to do on the east side this year because it’s going to be more crowded over there.”
The stadium will also become more ADA accessible including ramps, elevators at all four corners of the stadium and ADA accessible seats in the student sections. “Literally every one of our gates will be accessible now and that will be a great thing for us to say,” Messerly said.
In addition, improvements will be made to the box seats by putting in TV’s, heaters and better seating. One sample box will be completed by this season for fans to see what all the new boxes will look like.
Two important things that will remain the same include the 60,000 stadium seat capacity as well as the Mountaineer Mantrip. However, the Mantrip’s route will change with the players and coaches entering the stadium at the light blue lot.
“Improving the fan experience was one of the major goals that we wanted to achieve with this project. We believe these improvements will accomplish that,” Messerly postulated.