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Now 43 years old, yet still impressive in its initial visual impact, stunning in its spacious yet simplistic structure, and versatile in its myriad uses, the WVU Coliseum is one of the nation's supreme showcases for college basketball.
Whether it is during the day with the sun shining down on the massive structure, or at night when its golden lights make it an evening showcase, the Coliseum stands as one of the most striking facilities on the WVU campus and played a major role in the expansion of the area known as the Evansdale Campus.
In 1971, the WVU Coliseum received a major architectural design award from the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Concrete Institute for being the "Outstanding Concrete Structure of the Year."
Many of West Virginia's past basketball glories were accomplished without the benefit of adequate facilities. WVU identified the need to upgrade the infrastructure facilities of the then 36-year-old Coliseum in order to be competitive in their athletic conference.
The upgrades that took place in 2004 included: renovations to the men's basketball locker room, renovations to the women's basketball locker room, construction of a players' lounge and team video theater, expansion of the Coliseum strength and conditioning center, expansion of the equipment room and training room, and refurbishment of the Coliseum roof.
Construction of a club seating area in the main arena was completed, with private space for concessions, hospitality areas and rest rooms under the lower level seats.
Starting in 2008, state-of-the-art score/video boards complete with high resolution video and expanded messaging capabilities became part of the fan experience at the Coliseum.
A partnership between the WVU Foundation and Panasonic allowed the global electronics maker to install two video board systems – one in the Coliseum and one in the football stadium.
The system, valued at approximately $5 million, was made available to WVU in part through a generous commitment from alumnus Ben Statler and his wife Jo, and a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
Panasonic, together with WVU, uses the video board systems as a showcase to feature the latest state-of-the-art video and audio technology, officials said.
“These systems are designed to engage and inform everyone at the event, and are equal or better in quality to any professional sports venue,” said Keith Hanak, group director, Panasonic System Solutions Company. “ West Virginia University and its fans will experience an unparalleled technological evolution this season, and the beginning of a new era in WVU sports history."
The video board system not only enhances the experience for fans, but more importantly, provide opportunities for increased revenue through advertising.
The Coliseum center-hung video board features a four-sided, LED video replay system. The four video boards provide replays and live event coverage, in-game scoring statistics, special messaging and sponsor advertisements. Two round LED halo boards are located above and below the center-hung scoreboard, and two new LED auxiliary boards are installed behind each basket.
A state-of-the-art directional sound system and lighting system has also been installed in the Coliseum.
The 14,000-seat domed arena has been the home of Mountaineer cagers for the past quarter of a century, but its many uses include commencement, concerts, conferences, floor shows and a host of educational and athletic events. The Coliseum ranks second only to the Mountainlair (WVU's student union building) in everyday activity.
The Coliseum has hosted conference basketball tournament championships, NCAA basketball, and gymnastics regionals as well as many other tournament events.
Built in 1970 at a cost of $10.4 million, the Coliseum serves as the home of the WVU School of Physical Education and much of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. It is also the home competition site for Mountaineer Women's basketball, gymnastics, wrestling and volleyball teams. Eleven other varsity sports use the facility as their training and equipment headquarters as well.
Nearly 100 offices, 13 lecture and seminar rooms, a dance studio, safety lab, racquetball and squash courts, steam rooms and the Jerry West Mountaineer Room are included in the structure's 10.5 million cubic feet of space. There are also more than 1,000 locker units in various dressing rooms located adjacent to the playing floor. Added accessories such as these help make the building so special, while allowing WVU to host an endless array of events.
A prominent addition has been the WVU All-American display located on the concourse level between the Red and Green Gates. The project recognizes great achievements by Mountaineer athletes in all sports. Ultimately, each sport will have a display area around the Coliseum concourse to tell its story of success. Around the inner concourse of the arena, bronze plaques salute the inductees to the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame.
At the WVU Coliseum, fan comfort is the utmost priority. Once inside the gates, visitors have immediate and unhindered access to ticket windows, numerous concession areas, water fountains, rest rooms and first aid facilities. All 14,000 blue theater-type seats in the main arena allow for comfortable viewing of any event. The ribbed, rafter-less roof and modern architectural design give a clear, unobstructed view of the playing floor from every seat. Central ventilation units provide climate-controlled comfort in all types of weather.
The Coliseum sound system is so intricate that four lectures can be heard simultaneously without conflict; in fact, classes are often held while 14,000 cheering fans are watching a basketball game.
While fans enter at concourse level, the floor level is the true home of the Mountaineer basketball team. The West Virginia locker room is decorated in the school colors of gold and blue. Wall-to-wall carpet covers the floor and color pictures adorn each player's locker area. A complete video theater was installed before the 2004-05 season in addition to a lounge area, so the cagers can watch their game and practice films on big-screen video with some of the best equipment available.
The Mountaineer basketball offices have moved to the new Basketball Practice Facility, adjacent to the WVU Coliseum. The new facility houses private coaches' offices and completely furnished film rooms for men's basketball head coach Bob Huggins and women's basketball head coach Mike Carey, and their respective staffs and players. Two modern video units with large screen televisions were also installed so that Huggins and Carey have the best to work with while preparing game strategy.
Press row provides 100 seats for members of the media on the concourse level at the Blue Gate. Four television platforms and several radio locations are also strategically situated at different positions around the arena. Known as one of the nation's best, a pregame meal is served to all accredited media in the Jerry West Mountaineer Room, also the site of the media workroom.
Formerly the Mountaineer Lounge, the Jerry West Mountaineer Room was dedicated in December 1988, in honor of one of the University's greatest athletes. The room can be arranged to handle groups from 10 to 150 for meetings.
Highlighting the Jerry West Mountaineer Room is the illuminated showcase that flanks the entryway, commemorating West's outstanding career. Pictures from his WVU playing career, game programs, magazine covers, his uniform, the 1959 NCAA basketball, the Kentucky Invitational championship trophy, as well as other memorabilia are displayed to honor West and his days with the Mountaineers. The showcase area has become a popular spot for fans of all ages to pause for a picture and look back on one of the sport's and West Virginia basketball's greatest performers.
When the WVU Coliseum fills with more than 14,000 screaming fans, it becomes an arena unsurpassed in enthusiasm and electricity. The Mountaineers respond to this great home court by making it a very unwelcome place for their opponents. The all-time Coliseum record for men's basketball since 1970 is 476-140, while the women's all-time Coliseum record is 343-158.
West Virginia University is known for its first class athletic facilities, first made with the construction of the Coliseum in 1970 and strengthened since in a wide array of structures that meet the demand of a thriving college program. Extensively used by the University and Morgantown community, the WVU Coliseum is the centerpiece of the athletic facilities that are now such an important part of the WVU intercollegiate athletic program.
Directions To WVU Coliseum
From Pittsburgh, Pa.
By car: From Pittsburgh take I-79 S toward Washington, Pa. Merge onto I-79 S via EXIT 21 toward Morgantown crossing into West Virginia. Take EXIT 155 toward West Virginia University WV-7. Turn left onto CR-19/24 N/Chaplin Hill Road. CR-19/24 N/Chaplin Hill Road becomes US-19/WV-7/Jerry West Blvd./Monongahela Blvd. Continue across the Star City Bridge and through one traffic light. The WVU Coliseum is located on the right at the top of the hill.
From Washington, D.C.
By car: From Washington, D.C. take I-270 N toward Frederick, Md. Merge onto I-70 W via EXIT 32 toward Hagerstown, Md. Merge onto I-68 W via EXIT 1A on the left toward Cumberland, Md., crossing into West Virginia. Take EXIT 7 toward WV-705/Airport/Pierpont Road. Follow signs to Stadium. At the second traffic light off the interstate, turn left and travel up Easton Hill. Travel through two more traffic lights and turn right on Route 705 and remain on 705 until it becomes Chestnut Ridge Road (two more lights). Remain on 705, turning left at the second light, until 705 intersects US-19/WV-7/Jerry West Blvd./Monongahela Blvd. The WVU Coliseum is located on the right.