The sounds of construction are synonymous with summer on the West Virginia University campus. Each May, as the students pack their cars and flee Morgantown for their homes and the beach, flatbeds stuffed with building materials and concrete trucks ready to pour file into Touchdown City.
Yearly summer construction is a given for a University that continues to grow in population. With enrollment pushing 33,000, essential and cosmetic facility updates are a necessity at WVU.
One project nearing its halfway point is the construction of a new and larger Rosenbaum Family House and Child Development Center. A part of WVU Hospitals, it’s located at the base of Law School Hill, near the northwest side of Milan Puskar Stadium, adjacent to the Ronald McDonald House. The four-story building will serve as a replacement facility for the buildings that are to the right of Ruby Memorial Hospital, making room for a 10-story tower that is expected to add 750 permanent jobs and 139 new beds.
The construction of the new Rosenbaum Family House, a facility for adult patients and their families to stay in while receiving medical care at WVU, and the Child Development Center, will have a slight impact on game-day operations come the 2013 WVU football season. The land being built on is all owned by WVU, and Scott Boierer, the director of facilities for WVU Hospitals, says that the Hospitals have a long-term land lease with WVU.
“The way the lease is written, everything that is parking in front of our facility is ours to use and maintain except for game days, and then it reverts to the University’s use,” he explained.
The new building is being built in Upper Tent City, and the footprint of the building and the construction area is going to be in Tent City 1, the main hospitality lot on WVU football game days. Prior to construction, Tent City 1 could house anywhere from six to eight tents, depending on the game and the size of the tents. That will no longer be the case.
“We’ve coordinated with WVU Hospitals, and we want to be able to use as much of Tent City 1 as we can for the 2013 season,” said Matt Wells, WVU Assistant Athletic Director/Marketing and Sales. “We’ll fit as many tents in the space that we can, which will probably be two, maximum. We’re also working on other options for additional tent space for the upcoming season to offset not having access to that full lot.”
“We reached an agreement with the University for what we’re impacting in the Tent City lots with the construction of the building,” adds Boierer. “We’re providing some parking in another location that will support a University development.”
Wells believes that the new space provided will still offer a superb game-day experience for fans, donors and alums.
“We’re hoping to have a space along the West Side of the stadium. It’s slightly farther away, but it’s not going to be too far,” he explained. “(The new space) will still be convenient for the tent customers and their guests to tailgate and then walk to the stadium. The type of tents and the access to the lot will be very similar.”
An unrelated but necessary project that will positively affect WVU fans’ game-day experience this fall is the construction of new steps leading to the top of “Law School Hill.” The familiar wooden steps that connected the Red, Brown and Media Lots to Milan Puskar Stadium were deemed unusable more than a month ago and were boarded up. Veritas won the bid to do the construction of the new steps, and work on concrete steps should start around the first week of July.
“We had to shut the current wooden steps down because they weren’t structurally sound,” said Joe Patten, interim Assistant Vice President for WVU Facilities Management. “Wooden steps only last so many years, so these new concrete steps will be more permanent. They will be in the general vicinity of the wooden steps.”
Most importantly, the new steps will be complete for the Mountaineers’ 2013 season opener against William & Mary on Aug. 31.
“Safety was the driving force behind this project, and that deadline is looking solid,” Patten reassured.
The WVU College of Law is also under construction, as the school is in the midst of a $25 million expansion and redesign project. The 20,000-square-foot addition will house new classrooms, an additional (third) courtroom, conference and interview rooms, distance education facilities, a multi-purpose event space, a faculty wing and the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development. Additionally, the George R. Farmer, Jr. Law Library will be redesigned, and several service centers will be housed in new offices. The school also will feature a nice, new, bigger building entrance.
James Jolly, the director of marketing and communications for the WVU College of Law, says that the construction won’t impact parking for football game days, and just as in the past, the building will be closed on game days.
Jolly is anxious for WVU fans to get a glimpse of the school’s redesign.
“We’re very pleased with the progress on the building,” he said. “It’s a very modern look that should fit in well with the rest of campus.”
All involved with these current construction projects echo Jolly’s sentiments.
“We know we’re impacting parking and creating some congestion on our campus, and we apologize for that,” said Boierer. “It’s a temporary inconvenience for permanent improvement. This new building (substantial completion is expected by the end of 2013), and the eventual completion of the 10-story tower will enable us to get more West Virginians in here to be treated and to be cured. That’s what we do – we want to improve the health of West Virginians.”
For his part, Wells does not foresee any of the construction impacting demand for space in Tent City.
“What we’ve seen is that demand for tents has stayed pretty strong and consistent,” he explained. “We certainly haven’t had any decreases in our tent demand, and we don’t expect that with these changes, either.”
Change on the WVU campus comes each summer. Yet, by early fall, once the students have returned and fans and alums have journeyed back to Morgantown to cheer on the Mountaineers, many will applaud the efforts and appreciate the new conveniences that will enhance the game-day experience and life at WVU.
Milan Puskar Stadium, WVU Hospitals, WVU Law School, West Virginia University
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