MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If all goes according to plan, the $23 million renovation project going on inside the WVU Coliseum will be completed well before the start of Big 12 play this season.
“We’re looking at having everything completed around the games scheduled on Dec. 10,” said April Messerly, WVU’s associate athletic director for Facilities and Operations.
In conference action, the WVU women’s basketball team will host its first Big 12 game Jan. 4, against Baylor. The men’s team will host TCU on Jan. 7.
By that time, the Coliseum — first opened in 1970 — will have a much different look, including 43 high definition TVs in an expanded concourse, easier-to-locate section numbers in the seating areas and more restrooms.
Construction is still ongoing, so many of the planned changes are yet to be completed, as the WVU men’s basketball team hosts Mount St. Mary’s, at 7 p.m. today, in its season opener.
But all four gates will be open today, Messerly said, with the Gold Gate serving as the main entrance for fans who are not WVU students.
The $23 million project is funded through bonds that are partially guaranteed by annual Big 12 Conference revenues earned by WVU, as well as WVU’s multimedia contract with IMG.
The WVU men’s and women’s locker rooms were also renovated through private donations.
“They just finished them two days ago,” WVU men’s head coach Bob Huggins said. “They look great.”
Other points to know about the renovations include:
— An increased number of concession stands will up the Coliseum’s points of sale from 21 to 40 throughout the arena. Beer will now be sold to the general public at games. Beer sales will conclude at the end of halftime. All the concession stands but one will be open for today’s game.
— 107 women’s toilets were added, while 26 men’s urinals and seven additional men’s toilets were added. “No more troughs,” Messerly said. “That’s a big thing.”
— The Hall of Fame plaques were removed and will be returned to the honored athlete or the athlete’s family. WVU Hall-of-Famers will be recognized digitally, at the team’s new Hall of Fame room in the Coliseum. It is still under construction. Jerry West’s memorabilia will also be on display in the Hall of Fame room.
— Future renovations will see the Coliseum weight room removed, which will make room for floor-level suites and a media workroom.
— New concession-stand items include walking tacos, pulled-pork sliders and loaded pepperoni rolls, as well as previous offerings.
— Messerly added all classrooms have been removed and once all renovation projects are completed, the Coliseum will be closed during business hours, except for the Gold Gate, which is where the new ticket office will be.