||Site prep has already begun on the new 10-story tower planned for Ruby Memorial Hospital.
Those of you driving into Milan Puskar Stadium prior to Saturday’s Towson game will notice a lot of construction going on in and around Ruby Memorial Hospital next to the stadium.
In an effort to ensure the highest quality healthcare for residents of the state, Ruby is adding a 10-story tower that will create space for 114 additional beds at the ever-expanding hospital complex.
To make room for the new tower, the Child Development Center has been moved to the new Rosenbaum Family House facility, which is located just below the WVU Law School at the base of Law School Hill.
“Exciting changes are happening all around the campus of WVU Healthcare’s Ruby Memorial Hospital,” said Steve Trancin, vice president and chief hospital operations officer for WVU Hospitals. “Rosenbaum Family House, where adult patients and families who live more than 50 miles from Morgantown can stay at low cost, and the Child Development Center (CDC), our on-site childcare facility, have moved from their original location adjacent to Ruby Memorial across the parking lot between Milan Puskar Stadium and the Ronald McDonald House. To better serve the patients, families, and staff who utilize those services, we’ve made both the Family House and the CDC bigger and better.”
As the hospital continues to grow, it has taken some of the Blue Lot parking spots that were once available for Mountaineer football fans during game day. Matt Wells, WVU associate athletic director for external affairs, said game-day services will be somewhat altered by the ongoing construction in the area.
“It’s an exciting time of the year, the first home football game of the season, and another exciting thing going on is the growth of West Virginia University Hospitals,” said Wells. “There has been an expansion project at the hospital with multiple phases to that, but the current phase will impact the Blue Lot on game day.”
Wells noted that fans will encounter some procedural changes when they arrive at the Blue Lot prior to Saturday’s game against Towson.
“The biggest change on game day is the closing of Med Center Drive,” he said. “Fans will recall that was the main road directly in front of the hospital. But because of the new tower now under construction, and because of the need to reduce vehicular and pedestrian traffic in front of the hospital, that road no longer exists.
“The road has actually been reconfigured and it now runs much closer to the north gate of the stadium,” Wells continued. “As fans come in on Elmer Prince from the United Bank/Patteson Drive side of the hospital, they will go through a roundabout and will continue on to the new road, which runs much closer to the stadium.”
The athletic department, the hospital, University and local police and parking consultants have met several times throughout the summer to come up with the best possible plan moving forward.
Wells said the initial recommendation was to not let fans pick their parking spots to adequately manage traffic flow through the newly reconfigured roadway. However, Wells indicated that a compromise was reached to allow Mountaineer fans the opportunity to select their tailgating locations early on Saturday morning.
“We felt like we needed to allow our fans some window of time to show up and pick their spot like they always have so we decided to allow them to do so up until noon on Saturday,” said Wells. “At 12:01 fans will be directed to the next available spot because we don’t want people blocking spots and using those spots for their tailgates when we have fans with Blue Lot passes who can’t get into the lot.”
Kevin Miller, assistant athletic director for annual giving for the Mountaineer Athletic Club, said the MAC’s two biggest priorities were to provide donors with the opportunity to park in similar locations to previous years and to also allow Blue Lot access to donors at the Director annual giving level and above.
“We understand that there is some frustration over these changes, but the window of opportunity to park in a desired location at least provides all Blue Lot pass holders with the ability to park in a preferred spot up until a designated time each game,” said Miller. “We look forward to continuing to provide Director level annual donors with the opportunity to enjoy their tailgate experience in the Blue Lot prior to Mountaineer football games this season. “
As a result of the reconfigured roadway, fans accustomed to pulling into Med Center Drive in the past and dropping off friends and family in the Blue Lot and then coming back to meet them at their tailgate locations will no longer be permitted to do so.
“You will have to have a Blue Lot pass to access the hospital roadway,” said Wells. “There will be a portion of the roadway closed near the north gate because of pedestrian traffic, so fans should be aware of that, too.”
Joyce Bucklew, director of game-day parking, said vehicles will no longer be able to drive through the Blue Lot to reach their tailgate destinations, but instead will be required to follow a set traffic pattern when parking attendants begin flagging vehicles into the lot.
In addition, the Blue Lot ADA shuttle service has been discontinued because of the Blue Lot changes. The ADA shuttle service from the Brown Lot (located behind the grass practice field) will still be available, however.
According to Tancin, the short-term inconveniences Mountaineer fans may encounter on game days this year will be balanced out by dramatically improved healthcare for West Virginians in the future.
“The space those facilities used to occupy is being prepared for the addition of a 10-story tower, which will allow us to more easily care for the ever-increasing number of patients from across West Virginia and the surrounding region who come to us for the world-class healthcare they know we provide,” said Tancin. “In addition to making room for the tower addition, relocating the road provides our patients, visitors and staff with a safer, less traffic-congested walk between the parking lot and the hospital.”
Added Wells, “There will be some inconveniences, but we hope fans will keep in mind the bigger picture that this is a positive thing for the University, for WVU Hospitals and the residents of the state as the hospital continues to grow and provide first-class care to our residents.”
Saturday’s game against the Tigers is slated to kickoff at 7:30 p.m.