West Virginia’s home opener is still more than a week away, but fans are getting a sneak peek at what will be a much different look for Mountaineer Field on Sept. 6.
All around Milan Puskar Stadium, new graphics and LED boards are sprouting up, giving the venue a facelift in the final days before WVU hosts Towson for a night game in Morgantown. For the first time since it opened in the 1980 season, the walls surrounding Mountaineer Field will have a splash of color when the team lines up for kickoff.
“We’ve always heard over the years about the battleship gray walls and the need for these kinds of things. It’s been a work in progress,” said WVU assistant athletic director for facilities and operations April Messerly. “We’ve been working on it to where we finally now have a product that we’re proud of.”
The plan has been in motion for quite some time now, beginning years ago when the university hired a sports graphics firm to come up with a master plan for its sports complex. Colors, logos and overall graphics now follow a set guideline to ensure that when the fan arrives at any of the venues across campus, it is clear that they have made it to Mountaineer country.
Now with the partnership between WVU and IMG, specific plans for Milan Puskar Stadium include wall wraps along the field level walls and on either side of the ribbon boards at the base of the upper level seating. There will be four LED boards for graphics and advertisements at each corner of the field level banners. The LED boards will also be placed in both the north and south end zones, upgrading the old out-of-town scoreboard and expanding a smaller board below the video board into two boards that will take up the entire length of the Hartley Club seating.
The banners feature the team name, West Virginia Mountaineers, as well as a “Pride of West Virginia” graphic where the Mountaineer marching band sits on game days and even a new place for Ira Errett Rodgers and Sam Huff, WVU’s two players with retired jersey numbers.
“Our retired numbers are going to flank both ends of that ribbon board,” Messerly said. “It’s higher visibility, it’s incorporated into the overall look of the stadium graphics and it’s also on that side so that it can be captured by the TV cameras as well. It’s definitely an upgrade for those retired players and retired numbers.”
The banners certainly bring a splash of color and new look to the stadium, something that head coach Dana Holgorsen believes can better brand the program.
“[Holgorsen] said, ‘When I bring recruits in here, sometimes it’s not on game day. We need to make this stadium look awesome when there’s not 60,000 people in it.’ That’s a way to do that,” Messerly said of the banners, specifically referencing the one labeled “The Pride of West Virginia.”
“[Holgorsen] can look at it and say, sure, the band sits there, but also the Mountaineers are the pride of West Virginia,” Messerly said. “Come be the pride of West Virginia in our program.”
All around Morgantown, new construction and renovation projects have been underway throughout the summer months. Some are meeting their scheduled completion date while others remain a work in progress.
Messerly is confident that this project inside Milan Puskar Stadium will be completed in time to welcome fans for the 2014 season.
“We work hard on all of our capital projects to have them in place and completed, for the ones that are directly in relation to the fan experience, in time for the first game,” Messerly said. “Hopefully everything will be working, looking great, to where fans can walk in and go, ‘Wow, this is truly an upgrade, this is truly something that’s going to make Mountaineer football and my experience even better. What a great addition to Mountaineer Field and Milan Puskar Stadium.’”