The Monongalia County ballpark took another step in the right direction this afternoon when the Request for Proposal for the ballpark was put out for bid.
“There have been a lot of people involved, but it’s been an interesting and enjoyable process on my end because you get to see something developed from the ground up,” coach Randy Mazey says. “Obviously there are a lot of things that have to be done, but it’s becoming a reality with each day that passes.”
For Mazey, this is the first time he has been involved in the design of a new ballpark and appreciates the vision and expertise of Director of Athletics Oliver Luck. While serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the Houston Sports Authority, Luck oversaw the design of Minute Maid Park, Reliant Stadium and the Toyota Center.
"Oliver had the vision before I even came here. Traditionally he has been known as a great facility builder and I don’t see this being any different,” Mazey says. “With all of the people we have talked to and everything that is in place, this is going to be an outstanding facility.”
Unlike most projects at WVU, the delivery of the ballpark will be through the use of a design-build contractor, a process that fast tracks the design and the construction into one, enabling them to work at a congruent pace.
“In the standard design-bid-build project, you go through the full design process then you have to bid that out and basically hand a package to a contractor and say build this,” WVU project manager Bill Linn says. “The design-build process allows us to combine the design and construction phases so they both progress simultaneously.”
The ballpark will be the third design-build project at WVU, with the first being the Caperton Indoor Facility in 1998, followed by Mountaineer Station in 2009.
“This is more of a recent trend in project delivery,” Linn says. “We’re seeing it across the nation and a lot of other universities are using this delivery method to expedite their projects.”
Included in the RFP are conceptual renderings of the ballpark, but according to Linn this design is not final and they will be taking any and all suggestions from the bidding companies.
“What we provided was a conceptual rendering showing how the ballpark fit on the property,” Linn says. “That’s one of the good things of design-build, we are giving the design-builder the opportunity to come back to us with their own design or a conceptual design that we may take into consideration.”
The WVU design is fan friendly and includes 2,500 chairback seats, berm seating, club seating, a fan amenity deck, a retail shop, a playground and park area and a wall of traditions similar to the Puskar Center and Basketball Practice Facility set ups.
“We want to make it as fan friendly as possible, so we’re going to try and make it enjoyable for people of all ages at all times,” Mazey says. “It’s going to be a great place to come and entertain your family for a few hours.”
Just beyond the center field fence will likely serve as the everyday home for the Mountaineers. Players and staff will be able to park in that area and walk right into a clubhouse, coach’s offices, team theater, strength and conditioning facilities, an athletic training room and an equipment room.
“Kids like playing in nice facilities and they like having nice clubhouses and locker rooms. We have addressed all of that. When we walk a recruit through this facility they are going to be really impressed,” Mazey says. “When this is finished, it is going to be a major turning point in our recruiting efforts. It’s been helpful so far, but it’s just a drawing on a piece of paper. With the amenities and the setting, it’s going to be one of the nicest collegiate facilities in the country.”
Design-builders are instructed to plan in their design for a future 40,000-square foot indoor practice facility that would feature a full-size infield and drop down batting cages, enabling the Mountaineers to be completely self-contained.
“That’s really going to help us. We wouldn’t have to run to the Indoor Practice Facility to practice or to weights in the Coliseum,” Mazey says. “We’re trying to put everything up there that we need from strength to nutrition to an indoor facility to academics, so once our guys come they can stay until practice is over.”
The bidding will take place from now through December and the winning bidder will likely mobilize as early as January.